Large Solar Project In Texas Likely No More If Tariffs Imposed

HPPR

11/16/17

A large solar project in Texas has been put on hold and will likely be canceled if the Trump administration goes ahead with imposing tariffs on cheaper panels made in China.

As KUT reports, a 100-megawatt solar farm was being planned outside of Fort Stockton, Texas that would have brought 300 to 400 people at its peak but a threat of tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports would likely make the project too costly to pursue because solar panels account for about 40 percent of the cost of a solar plant.

The threat of tariffs started in September when the US International Trade Commission agreed with two US solar panel manufacturers that they were hurt by cheaper Chinese imports. To level the playing field, the commission supported imposing tariffs.

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NARUC Adopts Resolution Urging Trade Rep To ‘Carefully Weigh’ Solar Case

Solar Industry

11/15/17

Today, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the body that represents state public service commissioners in charge of regulating utilities across the country, formally adopted a resolution urging the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to “carefully weigh” the harm that American consumers might face from proposed trade remedies, including new tariffs, under the Section 201 case.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) revealed a variety of remedy recommendations in October and forwarded a report to President Donald Trump on Nov. 13, giving the president 60 days to take some form of action. Although the ITC report and further details are not yet public, the recommended tariffs are generally considered much lower than what co-petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld had requested.

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The clock ticks: ITC turns Section 201 over to President Trump

PV Magazine

11/14/17

January 13. That is the last day that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump can make a decision on whether or not to impose trade sanctions on U.S. imports of crystalline silicon solar cells and modules, originating from pretty much anywhere in the world outside U.S. borders.

This case has already dragged on for seven months, but now we are in the final stretch before the Trump Administration’s decision. Some time before the end of the day, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will send its report to the president, beginning a 60-day countdown for him to act.

pv magazine staff has found no sources that can tell us more about this confidential report, and ITC staff has stated that a public version will be released at an unspecified later date. However, analysts who we spoke with have suggested that the report will likely not contain recommendations that are substantively different than what the four commissioners offered on October 31.

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Protect American jobs, reject bailouts for Suniva and SolarWorld

Greenville News

11/10/17

The US solar industry -- representing roughly 374,000 domestic jobs -- is currently under threat by two foreign-owned companies.

Bankrupted by severe mismanagement, Chinese-owned Suniva and German-owned SolarWorld are attempting to cash-in on a U.S. government bailout by obtaining new job-killing tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. President Trump is a staunch defender of American manufacturing. He shouldn’t be fooled by this case. Foreign companies are trying to manipulate our trade laws by asking for tariffs, while American companies are united against tariffs.

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Solar Tariffs Would Slow the Adoption of Clean Energy We Need

National Audubon Society

11/1/17

 “The future will be powered by clean energy. Imposing a tariff on solar panels only slows progress, hurting people and birds in the meantime,” said Matthew Anderson, VP of Audubon’s Climate Initiative, in response to the International Trade Commission’s recommendation to impose tariffs or similar measures on imported solar panels.

“Hundreds of America’s bird species could disappear by the end of this century if we don’t act on climate and reduce carbon pollution. Instead of punishing solar customers, the White House should embrace renewable energy and the path forward it provides to a stable climate.”

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How to Kill American Solar

Wall Street Journal

10/29/17

The solar power industry doesn’t like our opposition to solar power subsidies, but these days we’re on its side. We’re among the few opposing tariffs on foreign solar panels that could severely damage American solar power.

The International Trade Commission in September ruled in favor of two financially troubled U.S. solar-panel makers—Suniva and Solar World—that claim they’ve been injured by imports. This week the ITC will issue its “remedy recommendations” for President Trump, but nothing in the law says it must recommend tariffs on the most basic components of solar power.

Suniva and Solar World want a 25-cent per-watt tariff on imported photovoltaic cells and a 32-cent per watt tariff on modules. Suniva also wants a floor price on all imported solar products, and Solar World wants import quotas on top of which the tariff would spike. The companies claim import protection will drive demand for U.S.-made panels and create jobs.

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Ten free-market groups advise Trump to reject solar tariffs

Washington Examiner

10/27

A group of 10 conservative groups are lobbying the White House to make sure President Trump rejects a proposal to place tariffs on solar panel imports.

"If trade restrictions are imposed, the cost of solar products in the United States could double, endangering tens of thousands of good-paying domestic jobs within the solar industry," the conservative groups said in a letter sent to the president Thursday night.

The tariffs "would amount to nothing more than a crony capitalist giveaway to failing foreign-owned companies," the letter said. "They would be paid for by crippling an otherwise growing domestic solar industry (one whose preferential federal tax treatment has been correspondingly phasing down) and higher prices for energy consumers."

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New player in solar trade fight: Sean Hannity

Axios

10/20/17

As the White House tariff decision looms, Fox News personality and radio host Sean Hannity has come out against proposals for new penalties on imported solar panel equipment.

Why it matters: Hannity is friends with President Trump, and has a big platform.

The White House will make the final decision on potential new import restrictions at some point after next month's recommendations from the U.S. International Trade Commission, which concluded in September that low-cost imports from Asia and elsewhere are harming U.S. manufacturers.

Hannity cut a radio ad that ran in South Carolina over the past two weeks that calls the tariff petition by two financially distressed panel-makers an attempt to "manipulate" trade laws, and a "bailout" that would increase prices by "government mandate."

  • "Now that the Obama gravy train has run dry, well now they want President Trump to also stick you with the bill for their bankrupt businesses," Hannity says in the spot. "Taxpayers should not have to bail out one foreign-owned company only for their foreign financiers to get another payout."

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Sean Hannity weighs in on the Section 201 case

PV Magazine

10/18/17

It’s a clear sign that the solar has become relevant across all sections of American society when pundits on Fox News, who have previously described Climate Change as “phony science”, are taking positions on solar trade cases.

Fox News host Sean Hannity has issued an audio statement to make the argument that President Trump should reject proposals for trade action by Suniva and SolarWorld, calling any proposed remedies a “bailout” for failed, foreign-owned manufacturers. This clip ran for several weeks in South Carolina, a nascent solar market, in advance of a visit by President Trump.

The 78-second clip, available on YouTube, shows Hannity’s misunderstanding of and/or disregard for basic facts regarding the solar industry, relying instead on the trademark Fox News trope of blaming former President Obama. This includes the bizarre claim that under Obama SolarWorld and Suniva “only survived because they received taxpayer money”, and that the “Obama gravy train has run dry”.

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Section 201 tariff could halve utility-scale deployment in US: GTM

PV Tech

10/17/17

A US$0.40/W tariff resulting from the Section 201 case would halve utility-scale deployment in the US between 2018-2022, according to GTM Research.

The company also noted however, that the utility-scale sector could ride-out the impacts of a US$0.10/W tariff with a drop of 9% expected.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) will vote on recommended remedies, including potential tariffs on 31 October before President Trump makes his final determination in January next year.

GTM’s report attempts to assess the impact on the industry in the event of tariffs.

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GTM Research Analyzes Impact Of Solar Tariff In 12 Charts

Clean Technica

10/17/17

GTM Research has published a new report this week investigating the potential impact of introducing various levels of tariffs on the solar industry as a result of the Section 201 trade case currently in front of the US International Trade Commission.

I’ve been covering the Suniva and SolarWorld Section 201 trade case since the beginning (you can search through the past stories using the Suniva tag here) which was brought before the US International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and a floor price on CSPV modules.

Unsurprisingly, the US solar industry reacted with near-unanimous disappointment with the ITC’s decision, but have nevertheless promised to continue fighting in an effort to ensure that the remedy phase yields the best-possible outcome for the industry as a whole

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Viewpoint: Don’t let trade tariffs halt the growing U.S. solar industry

Denver Business Journal

10/13/17

There are few industries more interwoven into American life than the electric power industry. In today's modern economy, nearly every aspect of our lives depends on electricity, whether it's powering cloud computing systems linking our businesses to offices around the world, or the center pivot irrigation systems our farmers rely on to put food on our tables.

Electric energy is a necessity.

As demand for electricity has increased, so too has our desire for electricity generated from cheap, clean and reliable sources, such as solar. Solar has recently become one of the cheapest power sources, keeping everyone's electricity bills low, including those who don't have solar. This low-cost, clean power puts more money in consumers' pockets, and improves our air quality.

Unfortunately, access to affordable solar is threatened, due to a proposal to levy massive tariffs on certain solar modules, the primary component in a finished solar panel. In September, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found that imported solar modules are causing harm to domestic solar manufacturers. This decision stems from a petition brought to the ITC by a bankrupt U.S. solar manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner. The petition was later joined by another U.S. manufacturer (owned by a German company). 

Since the ITC determined that harm has been caused, they have until Nov. 13th to recommend a remedy to the president. The remedies proposed by the petitioners are extreme: Effectively doubling the price of solar by applying a tariff on all imported solar modules. Fear of these tariffs alone has led to a 20 percent price increase for solar panels in recent months and forced developers to procure and warehouse panels to hedge against future price increases. These current and proposed increases in solar prices hurt everyone with an electric bill - higher priced power and less clean energy.

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U.S. Solar Manufacturers and Foreign Parties Offer Trade Remedies to ITC

Lexology

10/10/17

As we discussed in a previous post, the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that U.S. producers are being seriously injured or are threatened with serious injury by imports of silicon photovoltaic cells and modules. As the case now advances to the remedy phase, companies, countries and trade organizations on all sides of the matter weighed in with their official recommendations for a suggested remedy.

Petitioner, Suniva, lowered the tariff suggestion from its original filing from $0.40 to a minimum of $0.24 per watt for standard crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells, with similar proposals from California-based manufacturer Auxin Solar and Oregon’s SolarWorld Americas.

San Antonio-based Mission Solar stopped short of recommending a tariff, instead suggesting an “economic incentive development program” with the aim of increasing U.S. solar cell manufacturing capacity. California’s SunPower noted that any measure restricting trade would not ultimately benefit U.S. manufacturers. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also contends that trade-restrictive measures would not achieve the ultimate goal of bolstering U.S. manufacturers and instead endorse direct aid in the form of technical and/or trade-adjustment assistance.

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It would be a 'travesty': Colorado senators agree (and disagree) on energy policy

Denver Business Journal

10/10/17

Colorado’s two U.S. Senators on Tuesday said they’ve both signed a letter opposing the imposition of tariffs on imported solar power panels.

But they disagreed on the Trump administration’s move Tuesday to roll back the Clean Power Plan, one of President Barack Obama’s signature pieces of legislation on the environment.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, on Tuesday spoke to a group of local executives at the Colorado Energy and Manufacturing Forum, organized by the Consumer Energy Alliance(CEA) and Colorado Business Roundtable’s (COBRT) and held at the History Colorado Museum near downtown.

“Today in Washington they’re dismantling the Clean Power Plan,” Bennet said, referring to the plan that sought to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s power sector.

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Donald Trump now has the excuse he needs to open the floodgates of protectionism

Washington Post

10/9/17

President Trump has just been handed two opportunities to impose new trade barriers. By Jan. 12, 2018, he must decide whether to impose “safeguard” tariffs or quotas on $8.5 billion in imports of solar panels. By Feb. 3, he will make the same call regarding $1.8 billion in imports of washing machines.

This is a pivotal moment for U.S. trade relationships. If Trump imposes new tariffs, there could be a tsunami of demands for protection against imports of hundreds of other products. Trade barriers on solar panels and washers also would probably lead to costs for the U.S. economy, a slowing of efforts at climate mitigation, and retaliation by trading partners.

There are already tariffs on solar panels and washing machines

The key feature shared by the solar panel and washer cases is that the United States already imposes special tariffs on these products, but limits these tariffs to only a couple of foreign source countries. In solar, the United States imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports from China beginning in 2011 and Taiwan in 2014. The problem for the struggling U.S. industry is that there was a surge of new solar imports from Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Solar Executives Lobby White House, Federal Officials to Avoid Tariffs

Greentech Media

10/5/17

Executives from eight solar manufacturing companies gathered in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to convince federal officials that tariffs would wipe out tens of thousands of industry jobs. With any luck, they say, the message will be heard by a president who holds the future of U.S. solar in his hands.

The day of lobbying was organized by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in response to an evolving trade case launched by Suniva and SolarWorld. U.S. trade commissioners ruled last month that imported solar equipment has caused "serious injury" to domestic manufacturers, validating the companies’ claims that cheap imports from Asia have made it impossible for them to compete. 

The troubled manufacturers filed their petition under Section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act, which is an obscure part of U.S. trade law that could allow the president to implement tariffs, minimum prices or quotas on solar products from anywhere in the world. 

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Solar tariff foes take case to White House

Axios

10/5/17

Solar industry officials took their case against steep new import penalties on solar panel equipment to the White House yesterday.

Why it matters: The trip, organized via the Solar Energy Industries Association, signals how opponents of new tariffs are pushing to make headway with Trump aides even as the U.S. International Trade Commission is still weighing its upcoming recommendations to the White House.

What happened: SEIA didn't specify exactly who they met with, though Politico reported yesterday that SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper told reporters ahead of the trip that it would include White House aides, as well as staff from DOE, the U.S. Trade Representative's office, and other agencies.

On the industry side, officials from SunPower, DuPont, RBI Solar and a few other companies attended. They're fighting the bid by two financially distressed panel makers — Suniva and SolarWorld — for major new tariffs and other restrictions.

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Tariffs and protectionism are not the way to make America great again

The Hill

10/4/17

Last month the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of a petition filed earlier this year under Section 201 of the Trade Act by solar panel manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld. The filing alleged that the two bankrupt companies experienced serious injury due to overseas competition. Section 201 is a rarely used remedy for domestic industries seriously injured by or threatened with serious injury from increased imports. An ITC recommendation on this case is expected by November 3 and is likely to include tariffs which, if the president agrees, could cost 88,000 American jobs and inhibit growth in America’s solar industry.

Section 201 is being used to unfairly protect a domestic industry again. In May, Whirlpool filed a petition alleging that Korean companies LG and Samsung have harmed it in the large residential washer (LRW) market. According to the suit, LG and Samsung are selling large residential washers (LRWs) in the United States at below the production cost. An ITC ruling is expected on October 5, and if the trend holds, the ITC will recommend the president impose tariffs. As with the case involving solar panels, if the president accepts the recommendations American families will bear the costs of the U.S. giving into protectionist impulses in the form of higher prices, lost consumer choice and possibly, jobs.

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Section 201: Clear and present danger

PV Magazine

10/4/17

At the Solar Power International trade show, held in September in Las Vegas, the Section 201 petition was on everyone’s lips. A session at 8:00 a.m. on the first morning of the show featured solar industry leaders presenting an impassioned case for everyone in the industry to get involved.

However, despite these pleas, no one knows for sure what is going to happen. At the time of writing this article, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) had not yet found injury, however it did not look good for opponents of the trade case. Beyond the injury finding there are still multiple layers of uncertainty, given that it is still unknown what trade remedies the ITC will recommend, or what the Trump Administration will finally choose to do.

If a significant trade action is taken, there are reasons to conclude that, unlike previous trade cases, it will likely have noticeable impacts on the U.S. market, which could last for a number of years. But this is not a matter of waiting for the effects, as it has not taken a finding of injury for changes in the market to become visible.

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