Proposed AD/CVD tariffs would ‘devastate’ US solar sector and put 18GW of projects at risk, DOC told

A Texas solar project from Enel Green Power North America, one of the more than 190 companies that has written to the US Department of Commerce. Image: Enel Green Power North America.

More than 190 US solar companies have warned that proposed duties on imports of modules and cells from three Southeast Asian countries represent an “immediate and serious threat” to America’s solar sector.

In a letter sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, the companies said the proposed tariffs would thwart US efforts to effectively tackle climate change and threaten the livelihoods of more than 230,000 American solar workers.

Signed by manufacturers, developers, installers, financiers and service providers across the US solar supply chain, the letter urges the Department of Commerce (DOC) to decline a request to initiate circumvention investigations recently filed by an anonymous group.

Dubbed the American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention, or A-SMACC, the group last month called for the launch of investigations into several solar manufacturers accused of circumventing anti-dumping and countervailing duties by using entities based in Southeast Asia.

The petitions now before the DOC would create 50-250% duties on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) modules and cells from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which said the three targeted countries account for 80% of all module imports to the US. The trade association said the duties could jeopardise the deployment of 18GW of US solar by 2023.

“I cannot overstate the dire threat that these reckless petitions are imposing on hundreds of thousands of American families,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA CEO. “The anonymous petitioners are asking the Department of Commerce to not only misinterpret US law, but also overturn a decade of department decisions in solar trade cases, all to benefit a few anonymous petitioners at the expense of the entire US solar economy.”

The duties “would devastate” the US solar industry and each of the more than 190 companies, according to the letter, which claims “the petitions are also designed to avoid a full and fair inquiry” into whether CSPV cell and module imports from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand are subsidised or sold to the US at less than fair value.

The petitions were filed on behalf of A-SMACC by law firm Wiley. A statement from the group published by Wiley last month said the filing would level the playing field for US solar manufacturers.

“For too long, obvious circumvention of antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese solar products has hobbled the US industry, eviscerated our supply chains, and put our clean energy future at risk. It is time for America to lead in this critical sector,” the statement said.

Days after that petition was filed, NextEra Energy called on the DOC to either force A-SMACC to reveal its members or to scrap its tariff request. The utility also requested that the department set a deadline for interested parties to submit comments related to the initiation of the anti-circumvention requests, which it said would be consistent with recent circumvention proceedings.

A DOC spokesperson subsequently confirmed to PV Tech that the department had received NextEra’s letter and was evaluating the nature of its requests.