Industry reacts to US Commerce Department ruling

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Industry reaction to the U.S. Commerce Department’s final determinations against crystalline silicon solar products from China and Taiwan has been swift, varied and intense.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), described the ruling as “ill-advised,” saying the decision would harm many and benefit few.

“We remain steadfast in our opposition because of the adverse impact punitive tariffs will have on the future progress of America’s solar energy industry. It’s time to end this costly dispute, and we’ll continue to do our part to help find a win-win solution.”

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) said the final ruling would cost U.S. jobs and raise solar panel prices.

Describing the scope of the Commerce Department’s investigation as “unprecedented in its reach,” the organization said the decision conflicted with recent pledges by the U.S. and China to cooperate in the battle against global warming.

CASE President Jigar Shah said the decision "to further tax solar panels from China, even those with key components made in the U.S., will undercut the growth of American solar jobs, hurt the American solar industry and make it more difficult for solar technology to compete against fossil fuels. These unnecessary taxes inhibit competition and put upward pressure on solar panel prices needed by U.S. homeowners, installers, and utilities."

Shah added that taxing solar trade undermined "both the spirit and efficacy of pledges made by the U.S. and China to work together in the battle against global warming." He added that hundreds of megawatts of solar projects remained unrealized due to "deleterious solar trade barriers in the U.S., China, Europe and globally," stressing that eliminating taxes in cleantech trade represented "the lowest-hanging fruit in the global fight against climate change."

Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy Americas, likewise expressed frustration at the ruling. Yingli saw its AD tariff rate increase from 42.33% to 52.13% and a CVD tariff of 38.72%.

"We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to accept such a broadly defined scope for this ruling, and to levy harsh, protectionist tariffs,” Petrina said.

“It’s well known that our customers, partners, and other stakeholders represent the majority of the solar industry and U.S. jobs. We will continue our vigorous defense on their behalf with the hope that national efforts to increase solar power’s cost-competiveness are not derailed further."

German-U.S. group SolarWorld, whose efforts led to the Commerce Department’s investigation, praised the decision. The company said the move “has paved the way for expansion of solar manufacturing in the strong and growing U.S. market.”

SolarWorld said it was optimistic that the new duties, along with the scope of imports that they cover, could curb or offset the Chinese industry’s circumvention of duties to address improper trade practices but added that the success of the new trade remedies would depend on “steadfast enforcement.”

“These remedies come just in time to enable the domestic industry to return to conditions of fair trade,” said Mukesh Dulani, SolarWorld’s U.S. president. “The tariffs and scope set the stage for companies to create new jobs and build or expand factories on U.S. soil.”