US contemplates solar domestic content requirement rules

Charles Schumer and Sherrod Brown presented their proposal on May 15, just two days before the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its preliminary determination to the U.S.-Sino trade case, which saw hefty tariffs imposed on Chinese module manufacturers.

Under their plans, Chinese solar companies would be barred from qualifying for the 30 percent tax credit, which U.S. individuals and businesses receive for purchasing and installing solar panels on their homes and businesses.

In a statement released, it was said that, specifically, the two senators aim to ensure that 70 percent of the parts of the module are U.S.-made, or, "if the if the final point of manufacture is in the U.S., then 50 percent of the parts must be U.S.-made." The amendment would mean two modifications to the existing tax credits, Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, and Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

Hammering his point home, Schumer stated, "The federal government has to take China’s strangle-hold on the solar power industry very seriously, and U.S. manufacturers must have every arrow in their quiver to fight back." He added, "This proposal is tough, but it’s needed to successfully counter China’s unfair trade practices. This hard-hitting plan will level the playing field for U.S. solar producers so that they can compete, create jobs and become a global leader in this rapidly-growing industry."

Equally vehement, Brown said, "We can’t trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese-made solar panels. We went from a solar trade surplus with China to a solar trade deficit in a matter of years. Ohio workers can compete with anyone in the world, but they deserve access to a level playing field. When the Chinese government provides direct export subsidies to its solar manufacturers, that’s not competing – it’s cheating. And it’s costing American jobs in solar manufacturing. American tax code should not make matters worse by incenting the purchase of Chinese-made solar panels. Our plan will ensure that American tax incentives support American solar panel manufacturers."