The solar import tariff implemented this year has caused significant dispute between policy makers, economists, and supporters of the solar industry. Now, U.S. based solar company, SunPower, has filed an exemption request with the U.S. Trade Representative. This motion reflects the most central debate regarding the trade case: is the tariff helping, or hurting, the U.S. solar industry?
SolBid’s Clean Energy News has followed the ITC Section 201 Solar Trade case since the initial proposal. At the time of our last discussion, the administration was in place to announce the final ruling by January 26th. Three days early, on January 23rd, the President signed the proclamation placing a tariff on imported solar cells and modules for a period of four years. The import tariff, which was implemented February 7th, is set at 30% with a 5% declining rate per year.
SolBid has provided consistent coverage of the ITC Solar Tariff Case as it has evolved over the past four months. In August, I reported on the “proposed” solar tariff submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission by Suniva and SolarWorld America, two U.S. based but majority Chinese and German-owned companies (respectively), to impose a tariff and floor price on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar panels of $0.40/watt and a floor price of $0.78/watt.
Last month, I covered news of a novel solar tariff proposed by bankrupt solar industry companies Suniva and SolarWorld Americas. Today, the U.S. International Trade Commission will decide whether to find favor in a petition to impose a tariff and floor price on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar panels.
Solar has become one of the fastest growing industries in the United States in the last few years. In fact, for the first time ever, U.S. solar ranked as the number one source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. But a novel solar tariff on imported panels stands to jeopardize future growth of the industry.