King urges President Biden to speed up tariff probe hurting US solar companies

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WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, calls on President Joe Biden to expedite the administration’s investigation into solar panels and cells imported from Malaysia , Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. In a letter to President Biden, King and a bipartisan group of 21 senators point to the challenges the investigation is already creating for the U.S. solar industry and the devastating economic impact that tariffs on such solar imports would inflict on this rapidly growing sector. The senators are also requesting a meeting with President Biden to discuss the matter. According to a new report published by the Solar Energy Industries Association70% of US companies say at least half of their solar workforce is at risk as a result of this survey.

“The initiation of this investigation is already causing massive disruption to the solar industry, and it will seriously harm American solar companies and workers and increase costs for American families as long as it continues,” write the Senators. “We urge your administration to quickly review the case and issue an expedited preliminary ruling. Such a ruling should carefully consider the significant political ramifications and deny the petitioner’s request for retroactivity.”

“Already, following the Commerce Department’s decision to initiate this investigation, industry surveys indicate that 83% of U.S. solar companies say they were notified of canceled or delayed panel supply. . Without a reliable and cost-effective source of panels, existing and proposed solar projects could come to a halt,” the Senators continued. “If left unchecked, cutting off this supply of panels and cells could also result in the loss of more than 100,000 American jobs, including approximately 18,000 manufacturing jobs.”

This bipartisan letter was also signed by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), John W. Hickenlooper (D-CO) , Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

As a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Member, Senator King has been a strong advocate for clean climate and energy solutions wherever they are found. A member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, he previously urged the Biden administration to adopt forward-looking proposals to accelerate the electrification of the federal vehicle fleet, and worked to secure investments in EV infrastructure in the bipartisan infrastructure law. Senator King is also a co-sponsor of the Clean Economy Act, which would put the United States on a path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, and Renewable Electricity. Standard Act, which would put the United States on a path to decarbonize the electric sector by 2050.

The full text of the letter can be read HERE and lower.

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Dear President Biden:

We are writing to express serious concerns regarding the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) recent decision to initiate the circumvention investigation requested by Auxin Solar in its petition. The initiation of this investigation is already causing massive disruption in the solar industry, and it will seriously harm American solar companies and workers and increase costs for American families as long as it continues. We urge your administration to quickly review the case and issue an expedited preliminary decision. Such a decision should carefully consider the significant political ramifications and reject the petitioner’s request for retroactivity. We also request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss this urgent matter.

On April 1, 2022, Commerce initiated the circumvention investigation requested in the Auxin petition that would subject crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) solar panels and cells imported from Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia to tariffs ranging from 50 to 250%. Since these four countries account for more than 80% of CSPV panel imports into the United States and more than half of the total panel supply in the United States, the increase in tariffs on products from these countries would severely reduce the growth of the solar industry and cost tens of thousands of American jobs. , and raise energy prices for US consumers. We strongly support the development of a domestic solar manufacturing supply chain, but current demand for solar products far exceeds existing domestic production capacity.

Already, following the Commerce Department’s decision to initiate this investigation, industry surveys indicate that 83% of U.S. solar companies say they were notified of the cancellation or delay in panel supply. Without a reliable, cost-effective source of panels, existing and proposed solar projects could come to a halt. According to Wood Mackenzie, a leading energy research company, solar deployment will decline by around 16 GW per year if the current situation persists and tariffs are eventually imposed. That’s more than half the scale of total solar capacity installed in the US in 2021 (23.6 GW). Without an answer, cutting off this supply of panels and cells also risks losing more than 100,000 American jobs, including about 18,000 manufacturing jobs.

These tariffs, if imposed, would have a negative impact on ratepayers who depend on clean and affordable energy. For example, a utility might have to switch to the next lowest-cost electricity supply if a contracted solar project could not be built or built on time due to the Ministry’s investigation. In addition, some utilities may decide to absorb any additional costs resulting from tariffs and then pass them on to ratepayers. This could mean massive price hikes for US utility customers, given that with CSPV modules subject to 250% tariffs, a typical 100 MW utility-scale solar project would face 62 $.5 million in customs duties. This would unnecessarily increase energy costs at a time when consumers are already facing rising prices and a high cost of living.

The initiation of the investigation is already having a negative impact on the American solar industry, and the longer this situation persists, the more serious the damage will be. Accordingly, we urge your administration to make an expedited preliminary decision in this matter and to carefully consider the significant political ramifications on American businesses, workers, and taxpayers. We also look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter further.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

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