U.S. solar installations to fall more than expected in 2017

Reuters

12/14/17

U.S. solar installations will fall more than expected this year, according to an industry report released on Thursday, due to weakened demand for residential systems and delays on large projects over concerns that President Donald Trump will impose tariffs on imported panels, increasing costs.

In a quarterly report, GTM Research said it expected U.S. installations to fall 22 percent to 11.8 gigawatts (GW) this year, down from a prior forecast that called for a decline of 17 percent. GTM conducted the analysis for the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group.

In the third quarter, market installations fell 51 percent to 2.03 GW. Last year was a particularly strong year for installations as developers raced to capture a federal tax credit that had been scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. The solar market is also expected to fall next year but will resume growth in 2019, GTM said.

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Trade case holds back solar growth, new report says

Utility Dive

12/14/17

  • It has now been eight consecutive quarters where the United States' solar market installed at least 2 GW of solar PV capacity, but industry proponents say installations are down as a result of higher prices and uncertainty surrounding a pending trade case.
  • GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association issued the U.S. Solar Market Insight report today, finding 2,031 MW of PV was installed in the third quarter — a 51% drop year-over-year. Cumulative year-to-date comparison has solar capacity additions down 22% compared to this point last year, according to the analysis.
  • Some of the slowdown is a result of uncertainty from a solar trade case, the report says. President Trump must make a recommendation of trade remedies by Jan. 26, after the International Trade Commission concluded SolarWorld and Suniva required import relief under a Section 201 investigation of the 1974 Trade Act. 

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LOMAX: Solar trade barriers won’t help American workers

Colorado Politics

12/13/17

There’s nothing wrong with a vigorous debate over where, when and how we get the energy needed to run our households, businesses and the broader economy. But too often, the debate over energy policy is falsely portrayed as an all-or-nothing, zero-sum game.

In reality, it takes a mix of different energy sources working together to support our way of life. Politicians and political campaigners who suggest otherwise, pitting the different energy sources against each other in a winner-take-all contest, are just wrong on the facts. No single energy source can meet 100 percent of our needs. In a growing economy, there is enough room for all energy sources to play their role, and we need them all to play their role.

Therefore, political campaigns to isolate and eliminate specific energy sources are totally misguided. In fact, as a former energy reporter and as an advocate, I have never seen these divisive campaigns create any real political advantage for their supporters in Washington, D.C. or in the states.

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Dozens Of U.S. Mayors Declare Support For Solar

Solar Industry

12/13/17

Dozens of U.S. mayors from across the country have signaled their public support for solar energy to power their communities. A statementreleased Tuesday by advocacy group Environment America includes signatures from city mayors and local officials ranging from South Miami, Fla., to Traverse City, Mich., who agree on the need to tap into clean energy from the sun.

“There is no downside to solar energy,” comments Naples, Fla., Mayor Bill Barnett. “It’s a win-win for all involved.”

Solar energy continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Latest figures from the Solar Energy Industries Association show that the U.S. now has enough installed solar capacity to power the equivalent of over 9 million homes, and Environment America says cities that prioritize solar power have helped to drive this growth. In 2016, just 20 cities accounted for as much solar power capacity as the entire country had installed in 2010.

Why small businesses are against tariffs on foreign solar suppliers

Supply Chain Dive

12/12/17

If President Trump imposes tariffs on foreign solar imports, Rondre Tompkins could lose his job as a solar installer at McCarthy.

That's because the tariffs — pushed by two U.S.-based solar manufacturers, Suniva and SolarWorld — could severely cripple the U.S. solar supply chain.

"We just had a pay cut and a couple people laid off because of this going on," Tompkins told Supply Chain Dive. "If I lose my job in solar, it will be extremely hard for me to find another job in solar, because other companies will probably be doing the same thing."

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Solar Stakeholders Testify, Rally At Trade Case Hearing

Solar Industry

12/7/17

On Wednesday, solar industry stakeholders converged once again in Washington, D.C., for  what was likely the final public hearing on the controversial Section 201 trade case before President Donald Trump makes his decision.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which advises the president on trade matters, held the meeting to evaluate the case and heard testimony from an array of advocates and opponents. Representatives from both sides offered few new arguments than those made at the previous U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) hearings. Nonetheless, co-petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld Americas pushed for tougher trade actions than what the ITC had recommended in late October. And the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) used the USTR gathering to lead a large opposition rally, which included solar workers’ marching toward the White House afterwards.

A day before the USTR hearing, SEIA also launched a six-step “America First” plan, which the group claims provides a blueprint for Trump to keep the solar industry growing and begins with rejecting solar import tariffs.

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Schneider Electric Statement to the USTR

Edward Gresser
Chair, Trade Policy Staff Committee
Office of the United States Trade Representative
1724 F Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20258

RE: Potential Action: CSPV Cells (Docket Number: USTR - 2017 - 0020)

Dear Mr. Gresser,
We are writing on behalf of Schneider Electric to oppose institution of high tariffs on imported  solar panels.  Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries, with $27 billion in revenues.

With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is a leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software.

We have 22 manufacturing facilities in the United States and employees in every state. Schneider Electric produces a wide variety of solar energy-based products from battery inverters, charge controllers, and quality balance of systems solutions, including a manufacturing facility in California.  Schneider Electric recognizes that the energy landscape in the US is changing, and to that effect we have over 1GW of installed solar capacity, and are leading the technological transition into energy storage and microgrids, investing tens of millions of dollars in product development on a yearly basis.  Just recently we completed an installation of 1,379 solar PV panels and associated inverters at our North America headquarters in Andover, Massachusetts, to convert 448 kW of direct current to alternating current.  Finally, the company incorporates solar in Energy Savings Performance Contracts for schools, hospitals, state, local and federal government facilities. 

We also advise customers on solar projects and incorporate solar into our energy efficiency and microgrid customer projects.   We currently support clients in the pursuit of utility-scale solar projects in all deregulated US states—including California, Virginia, and Texas.   Solar is also an integral part of microgrid installations in the US –an increasingly important market for national security and resilience purposes.  Schneider Electric is currently considered #1 microgrid installer of microgrids in the United States.

We don’t ask for appropriations funding from the government, and don’t seek special protections for our business, and we expect that our suppliers in the solar industry do the same.  The key to widespread solar adoption and growth in the US—and the associated economic activity and job creation—is having modules that are priced on par with conventional fuel sources such as gas and coal.

Imposition of tariffs on solar modules to protect only two companies will drive costs up for us and our clients, leading to project loss and lack of growth in the US.  The relative expense of domestic panels, even when supported by Federal subsidization, has been cost-prohibitive for US developers responding to the unprecedented demand for solar expansion.  Reliance on domestic panels would have significantly slowed solar growth at a time when consumers have clamored for it due to the falling cost and clean energy generation it produces.

The result will be a loss of economic activity and jobs—very detrimental to one of the fastest growing employment sectors, putting thousands of Americans to work.  SEIA estimates that 88,000 US jobs could be lost in the next year alone.

We hope that you consider a free market approach in your decision.

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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