Coalition coalesces around fighting Suniva’s Section 201 trade case

Frank Andorka - PV Magazine


It’s nice to know (Sir Issac) Newton’s First and Third Laws of Motion are still operable nearly four centuries after his death.

The world-renowned scientist, known to most children as the man who discovered the theory of gravity after being hit on the head by a falling apple, also proposed three laws of motion, including his:

  • First Law: Law of Inertia, which states that ‘every object in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force’; and
  • Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Proof that these laws also apply to the solar industry came yesterday, when an extensive and varied group of associations and companies came together to form the Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) in direct reaction to Suniva’s Section 201 trade petition, currently pending before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and which will eventually end up on President Donald J. Trump’s desk if the ITC finds injury. It also plans to be the ‘outside force’ that lobbies against moving the petition forward.

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Conservative Groups Come Out Against the Suniva, SolarWorld Trade Case

Julia Pyper - Greentech Media


Opponents of the Suniva-SolarWorld trade case have a new, and perhaps surprising, set of allies: conservative policy groups.

The Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have come out against the recent petition to impose tariffs on imported crystalline silicon solar products, joining in a coalition with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and others. Mounting dissent from across the political spectrum could help convince Republican President Donald Trump to refuse the introduction of trade barriers.

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Coalition launches to fight solar panel tariffs

Timothy Cama - The Hill

07/21/17 04:21 PM EDT

A broad industry and conservative coalition launched Friday to fight potential tariffs on imported solar panels.

Energy Trade Action Coalition includes mainly non-solar companies, along with trade associations, utilities, retailers, unions, conservative groups and others.

It was formed with the express purpose of fighting a petition by bankrupt domestic solar manufacturer Suniva Inc., which is asking the Trump administration to impose penalties on imported solar technology like cells and panels.

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New group will fight tariffs

David Ferris - E&E News


A broad group, encompassing utilities and retailers and free-market Republicans, may be forming to battle a bid by U.S. solar manufacturers to raise trade barriers against foreign solar products.

The Energy Trade Action Coalition announced its existence today. It responds to two struggling U.S. solar manufacturers that have petitioned the Trump administration to slap financial penalties on all foreign suppliers of solar components in order to resuscitate the moribund domestic industry (Energywire, May 8).

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Washington, DC— The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) was launched today to fight the misuse of trade remedies with an initial focus on the Section 201 trade petition on imported solar components.  Filed by two heavily indebted solar companies, the 201 trade petition asks the Trump Administration to impose a drastic mix of tariffs and a floor price that would double the price of solar equipment and damage the U.S. solar industry.

The Section 201 “Petition for Global Safeguard Relief – Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules” seeks a tariff of 40 cents per watt on all foreign-made solar cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on all foreign-made panels, doubling the price for the basic ingredients of the broader U.S. solar industry.  The $23 billion U.S. solar industry employs 260,000 American workers in good-paying jobs across the country.  If successful, this petition would slash demand for new projects and make solar less competitive with other sources of power, decimating one of America’s most promising high-tech growth industries. 

“Tariffs meant to protect one industry can, and often do, have significant damaging effects on other domestic industries,” said Tori K. Whiting, Research Associate at The Heritage Foundation. “Imposing tariffs under Section 201, as Suniva and SolarWorld request, would be a step backward by adding another layer of federal subsidies which is something the Heritage Foundation opposes in all instances.”

The International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently conducting a review to determine whether there is evidence of injury, a process due to be completed by Sept. 22.  If the ITC decides in favor of the petitioners, it must recommend specific trade barriers to President Trump by Nov. 13.  The president then has 60 days to act on the recommendation.

“Protectionism is never the solution for an inability to compete globally,” said Bill Gaskin, former President of the Precision Metalforming Association. “Our country’s trade laws should never be co-opted into causing widespread pain for the broader U.S. economy.”

“Voluntary free trade is always a good thing. And it's a good thing for every consumer; not just a few individuals or companies,” said Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute. “The solar case is an example of the worst kind of trade protectionism. We're delighted to stand for freedom and free markets.”

ETAC will actively engage with the Trump administration, Congress, the media and public to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining access to globally priced products to support American energy industry competitiveness, sustain tens of thousands of good-paying American manufacturing jobs and preserve the principles of free trade in a global marketplace.