Either way, we will find out in a few hours, when the ITC issues a finding of whether or not the domestic solar cell and module manufacturing industry has been injured by foreign imports. They say a flood of imports has forced Suniva into bankruptcy and led SolarWorld to lay off most of its workforce.
The commissioners will in November recommend specific penalties, such as tariffs or price floors on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, the component of solar panels that generates electricity.
Friday's vote by the International Trade Commission was unanimous. Trump's Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) called the rule allowing tariffs on worldwide products a "vital tool for industries needing temporary relief from imports to become more competitive". More than 90% of solar installations in the USA use imported panels. The company invoked an obscure law that grants the White House power to impose duties if the commission determines surging imports are hurting American companies.
Suniva's USA operations are based in Georgia, but the company's majority owner is in China. "It will be in President Trump's hands to decide whether America will continue to have the capability to manufacture this energy source".
The case is unique in that it has caused a considerable rift in the solar industry, with manufacturers on one side and installers on the other. "President Trump can remedy this injury with relief that ensures US energy dominance that includes a healthy USA solar ecosystem and prevents China and its proxies from owning the sun". Its recommendations - which the president will have broad leeway to accept, amend or reject - could include establishing tariffs or minimum prices on imported solar equipment.
"Any new tariffs are likely to increase costs and reduce demand for installations, disrupting the solar jobs market that now employs 260,000 workers in the United States and is valued in the tens of billions of dollars", said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, in a written statement. The company filed a petition for relief from exports with the ITC about a week after seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"We believe that the promise of solar - energy sustainability and independence - can be realized only with healthy American manufacturing to supply growing USA demand", Stein said in a statement to The Associated Press.