The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) is preparing for the next step now that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decided to investigate whether or not to take action against Chinese photovoltaic modules for its country’s trade policies. CASE has argued that the investigation smacks of protectionism and will hurt the U.S. solar industry.
Last week the ITC ruled favorably in SolarWorld Americas Inc. and Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) petition against the trade practices of Chinese silicon photovoltaic manufacturers. CASM had alleged that Chinese manufacturers were dumping modules in the U.S. at anti-competitive prices with support from the central Chinese government, costing U.S. jobs.
CASE is arguing that imposing any fees or tariffs on the imported modules would result in price increases domestically that would cost even more U.S. jobs.
“The current ruling just moved the process forward,” said Jigar Shah, CEO of the Carbon War Room, a renewable energy advocate group and a member of CASE.
The organization is preparing for the next step in the process.
“The bigger thing we’re doing is mobilizing the 97 percent of the U.S. solar industry,” Shah said. “We’re eagerly awaiting the next set of interviews and petitions to make our case effectively to the Department of Commerce.”
If retroactive tariffs are imposed on Chinese PV modules, it could force solar project developers and installers to renegotiate contracts factoring in higher-than-expected costs, according to Shah. If that occurred, many projects could be delayed or even cancelled.
“Independent analysis is coming out showing that this is going to be devastating to the U.S. solar industry,” he said. “It’s already having a negative impact on the U.S. solar industry now, which is horrible timing, given the expiration of the 1603 grant program at the end of the year.”
CASE is in support of competition.
“We really need competition and cost reduction and not protectionism,” Shah said.
He also noted that the U.S. is still exporting more solar materials to China.
“The U.S. had a net $400 million export business to China in 2010,” he said.
There are now roughly 14,000 employees of the more than 100,000 employees in the U.S. solar industry that are aligned with CASE, according to Shah.
“In a few weeks we’ve gone up to that number,” he said.
And more than 130 companies have aligned themselves with CASE, among them SunRun, SolarCity and SunEdison.
Image courtesy of NREL.