Federal trade officials asked representatives for Suniva and SolarWorld to justify their request for tariffs on imported solar equipment on Tuesday, marking the latest step in a case that threatens to upend the U.S. solar industry.
The 10-hour hearing at the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. drew dozens of solar industry leaders, foreign diplomats and activists sporting t-shirts that read, "Save America's Solar Jobs, No New Solar Tariffs."
Executives for the troubled solar manufacturers told the agency’s four commissioners that tariffs and price minimums are needed to revive their industry, which has been crushed by cheap imports from Asia.
“Quite simply, we need the commission’s help to save solar manufacturing in the United States,” said SolarWorld CEO Juergen Stein.
The companies are calling for duties of 40 cents per watt on imported cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on modules. If the commission approves the request, it could destroy 88,000 jobs in installation, sales and construction, according to estimates by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
“What would you recommend might help the broader solar industry?” asked Commissioner Meredith Broadbent.
“We’re not out to kill the industry,” said Matt Card, Suniva’s VP of commercial operations. “We are very open to a solution that works for all parties.”
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