Taking Sides, U.S. Solar Companies Split Over Trade Row

on November 08 2011 6:08 PM

A trade dispute first filed last month regarding allegations of Chinese solar cell dumping is heating up, and solar firms in the U.S are choosing sides.

In a 5 p.m. teleconference call, members of The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, a 25-member organization comprising of Sun Edison and other solar firms in opposition of SolarWorld Industries America' s trade dispute filed last month, said any tariffs imposed as a result of the trade row will hurt the U.S. solar industry.

The imposition of a tariff will severely hurt our ability to sell products and sell projects, said Jeff Wolfe, President of groSolar in the conference.

Kevin Lapidus, Sun Edison's general counsel, said tariffs will drive the cost of solar energy up, at a time where industry costs must stay low in order for solar to be viable industry. Lapidus said tariffs will increase the cost of solar, hurting demand.

The question is not whether the [U.S.] cell industry can succeed, the question is now can the [U.S.] solar industry succeed, Lapidus said.

Lapidus said the coalition intends to let members of the public, as well as lawmakers, understand the full effect any tariffs will have on the solar industry as the trade row progresses. Lapidus said the initial complaint filed by SolarWorld and six other solar firms is misguided.

The coalition which formed Tuesday, and represents 9,200 solar jobs, collectively announced their opposition to the dumping dispute filed Oct. 19 by SolarWorld Industries America.

There's been overwhelming opposition throughout the U.S. solar industry to SolarWorld's short-sighted trade petition, said Jigar Shah, co-founder and chairman of CASE, and head of the Carbon War Room, and founder of Sun Edison in a written statement.

The vast majority of the existing 100,000 jobs in the solar industry are in sales, marketing, design, installation, and maintenance. These jobs depend on affordably priced solar panels and companies would have to lay off workers if panel prices rose as a result of this petition.

The coalition formed on the heels of the first U.S. International Trade Commission preliminary conference into the dumping case which took place early Tuesday morning in Washington D.C.

The trade petition led by SolarWorld seeks relief from what it claims are illegal Chinese trade practices.

Two days after the petition was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, the IBTimes reported an unamed Chinese official published the following posting on the Chinese Commerce Ministry's Website: If the U.S. government files a case, adopts duties and sends an inappropriate protectionist signal, it would cast a shadow over world economic recovery.

The trade row already has had adverse affects on the U.S. solar industry.

CECEP Solar Energy Technology Co Ltd, a giant Chinese solar firm announced yesterday they planed to shelve $500 million of solar projects, citing the pending trade dispute.

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