Predatory pricing claim may lead to tariffs on foreign solar panels

Fuel Fix:
The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Friday to that a flood of foreign made solar panels was damaging the domestic solar manufacturing industry, setting the foundation for new tariffs that developers here fear will dramatically raise costs on solar projects.

Two U.S. solar manufacturers, Georgia-based Suniva and Oregon-based SolarWorld, filed a petitions with the ITC earlier this year, arguing that large manufacturers abroad are dumping their products onto the global market below cost, driving American competitors into bankruptcy.

The ITC is scheduled to make a decision on what if any tariffs to impose by Nov. 13. A final decision would then be made by President Donald J. Trump, who campaigned on protecting U.S. manufacturing jobs by taking a tougher line on trade policy.

"We brought this action because the U.S. solar manufacturing finds itself at the precipice of extinction," Suniva said in a statement Friday. "President Trump can remedy this injury with relief that ensures U.S. energy dominance."

The Solar Energy Industries Association maintains that the tariff proposed by Suniva would harm job growth in an industry that currently employs an estimated 250,000 people.

"It is disappointing that two uniquely mismanaged and uncompetitive foreign-owned companies have been able to benefit from a process meant to protect U.S. businesses that have truly been harmed by subsidized foreign competition," said John Berger. CEO of the Houston-based solar developer Sunnova. "Tariffs, subsidies, and other market distorting remedies and policies harm both taxpayers and consumers who would benefit from open markets and robust competition."
There is a reason why the solar energy market is the most heavily subsidized form of energy.  It is relatively inefficient and lacks the ability to modulate the flow of energy to meet demand cycles.

Those who sell solar directly to consumers like the fact that foreign competitors are willing to sell at a loss.  This allows the installers to reduce their prices or make higher profits.  They also benefit from tax breaks to buyers that make the project seem less expensive than it really is.

Even with all the tax breaks and predatory pricing, the energy produced by solar panels is the most expensive on the market.


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