Over 240 solar companies ask Commerce to throw out AD/CVD bypass case

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With an expected preliminary ruling on the Commerce Department’s AD/CVD bypass investigation pushed back to Dec. 1, SEIA and 240 solar companies have sent a letter at Trade Sec. Gina Raimondo asking him to reject the original petition.

1 credit: Namaste Solar

The Commerce investigation began in March 2022 after the Californian solar panel assembler Auxin Solar petitioned for a review of Chinese solar panel manufacturers moving some of their manufacturing operations to Southeast Asia to circumvent anti-dumping/countervailing (AD/CVD) duties in place against Chinese solar manufacturers since 2012. Specifically, Auxin wanted to dig deeper into solar operations in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to determine if Chinese wafers, aluminum frames, backsheets and more have been used in exported cells and modules. If enough Chinese products are found in Southeast Asian module exports, the DOC may expand AD/CVD to the countries mentioned.

Trade must do its preliminary determination in this case of potential circumvention by December 1, and the companies in this letter make it clear that an affirmative determination is not warranted and will stifle America’s ability to deploy clean energy.

“President Biden took a crucial short-term step over the summer to unleash a stalled solar supply chain, but companies won’t be able to capitalize on the administration’s historic climate policy if this baseless case is n is not rejected,” Abigail said. Ross Hopper, President and CEO of SEIA. “The Inflation Reduction Act has launched a steady stream of manufacturing investment in the United States, but more tariffs will only undermine that success.”

The Biden administration intervened in June by releasing an executive order placing a two-year pause on all tariffs related to this matter “to ensure that the United States has access to a sufficient supply of solar modules to meet power generation needs while domestic manufacturing increases” . The trade would continue its investigation while giving American contractors some breathing space to bring projects online in the meantime.

The US solar energy and storage industry, backed by SEIA, remains convinced that the case lacks legal merit. Manufacturing solar cells and modules requires specialized equipment and is an intensive process. Due to the extensive and significant manufacturing work being done in the Southeast Asian countries cited in the survey – a region that previously supplied 80% of US demand for solar modules – SEIA says the deal initiated by Auxin Solar does not meet the bypass standard.

The Cut Inflation Act’s fabricating provisions bring SEIA’s goal of 50 GW of US solar generation by 2030 within reach, but trade could crush demand with unwarranted tariffs. The companies in the letter are asking Commerce to drop the investigation so the solar and storage industry can continue to grow and invest in domestic manufacturing.

Companies signing the letter include large-scale and residential installers, developers, panel manufacturers, inverter manufacturers, mounting manufacturers, software companies, battery suppliers and more.

If the Commerce Department issues its preliminary ruling on December 1, its final ruling will come on May 1, 2023.

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