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Heinrich, Tillis Lead Letter To U.S. ITC Opposing Tariffs That Would Harm Solar Industry

Aug 11, 2017

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with a bipartisan group of senators, are urging the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to not impose tariffs that would negatively affect the American solar industry. In a letter to Chairman Rhonda Schmidtlein, the lawmakers—who both represent states that have a growing solar industry—expressed their deep concern with the pending Section 201 global safeguard case regarding solar cell and module manufacturing in the United States. The ITC will hold a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday next week. 

Credit US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

"The petition requests that the President impose high tariffs on imported solar cells and high minimum prices for imported solar modules. As part of the U.S. International Trade Commission's investigation, we respectfully request that you also consider if the proposed trade remedies would negatively affect the American solar industry," wrote the Senators.

The solar industry is now booming across the nation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Foundation's 2016 Solar Jobs Census, 9,000 solar companies employed over 260,000 American workers. One out of every 50 new jobs added by our economy in 2016 was a solar job.

"Solar companies in our states believe the requested trade protection would double the price of solar panels. Increasing costs will stop solar growth dead in its tracks, threatening tens of thousands of American workers in the solar industry and jeopardizing billions of dollars in investment in communities across the country," continued the Senators. "According to SEIA, more than 88,000 American solar jobs could be lost next year if the proposed tariffs are imposed. Moreover, GTM Research estimates the tariffs would cut the demand for solar projects in half over the next five years. These tariffs would especially hurt residential rooftop solar projects that are growing rapidly. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that small-scale solar generation nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016."

In addition to Senators Heinrich and Tillis, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Angus King (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

A similar letter was sent by a number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The full text of the senators' letter is below and can be downloaded here.

August 11, 2017

The Honorable Rhonda K. Schmidtlein
Chairman
U.S. International Trade Commission
500 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20436

Re: Investigation TA-201-75

Dear Chairman Schmidtlein:

As U.S. Senators representing states that have a growing solar industry, we write to express our deep concern with the pending Section 201 global safeguard case regarding solar cell and module manufacturing in the United States. The petition requests that the President impose high tariffs on imported solar cells and high minimum prices for imported solar modules. As part of the U.S. International Trade Commission's investigation, we respectfully request that you also consider if the proposed trade remedies would negatively affect the American solar industry.

The solar industry is now booming across the nation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Foundation's 2016 Solar Jobs Census, 9,000 solar companies employed over 260,000 American workers. One out of every 50 new jobs added by our economy in 2016 was a solar job. However, all of the tremendous growth in solar investments, installations, and jobs could be in danger if the trade case causes solar prices to spike significantly.

Solar companies in our states believe the requested trade protection would double the price of solar panels. Increasing costs will stop solar growth dead in its tracks, threatening tens of thousands of American workers in the solar industry and jeopardizing billions of dollars in investment in communities across the country. According to SEIA, more than 88,000 American solar jobs could be lost next year if the proposed tariffs are imposed. Moreover, GTM Research estimates the tariffs would cut the demand for solar projects in half over the next five years. These tariffs would especially hurt residential rooftop solar projects that are growing rapidly. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that small-scale solar generation nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016.

Again, we respectfully request that the Commission carefully consider the potential negative impact that the high tariffs and minimum prices requested would have on the tens of thousands of solar workers in our states and on the hundreds of companies that employ them.

Sincerely,