I don’t know how many of you are following the SolarWorld petition alleging that China is dumping solar panels in the U.S., and the push-back against it by a coalition of solar companies, Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE). To me, this is all a big waste of time and resources. But, clearly, the petition could have serious negative consequences for the solar industry if it went anywhere. It seems like there’s at least one new press release about the matter every day, from SolarWorld or CASE or China. While sharing all of them doesn’t seem very useful — there’s not that much substance in most of them; it’s more like a little press release war — I figured I should keep you somewhat up-to-date on the matter. So, here is one of the most recent, from CASE, giving more detail regarding the push-back against the SolarWorld petition and why so many in the industry don’t support it:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2011 — Within one week of forming, dozens of U.S. solar companies, representing thousands of American jobs, have joined the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) to urge policymakers to help find a resolution to SolarWorld’s harmful trade petition. The Coalition now represents 52 American solar companies from across the United States and throughout the solar value chain and more than 9,600 jobs, or nearly 10% of the U.S. solar industry workforce.
“Every day, new American solar companies are stepping forward to oppose SolarWorld’s bid to block competition in the U.S. solar industry,” said Alan Epstein, President and COO of KDC Solar LLC, a new CASE member based in New Jersey. “Competition is good for the U.S. solar industry, good for solar jobs, and most importantly, good for creating and preserving long-term jobs for our electric customers and therefore the economy. The solar industry must remain united in its mission to make solar energy affordable for everyone.”
CASE members represent a large cross section of the U.S. solar industry, both large and small companies, including silicon and module manufacturers, project developers, financial and real estate services and installers.
“We’ve hired 400 employees this year, including electricians, roofers, salespeople, call center professionals – affordable solar energy in the United States is the catalyst for this new economic opportunity and these jobs,” said Ken Button, co-founder and president, Verengo Solar Plus. “If SolarWorld is successful with its petition, it would hurt the broader U.S. solar industry. Are SolarWorld’s jobs more important than ours?”
In a recent solar industry report, Jefferies analyst Jesse Pichel explained why SolarWorld’s anti-trade petition could hurt broader U.S. solar industry growth: “The U.S. solar industry, already suffering from a lack of financing, will experience higher panel prices and lower demand if countervailing duties are imposed as early 2012. SolarWorld may see backlash as U.S. developers and installers are hurt by this scorched Earth approach.”
SolarWorld’s trade action has been largely unpopular in the U.S. solar industry, given its potential to hurt thousands of jobs throughout the solar value chain. In a survey conducted by PV Magazine, 76.4 percent of respondents opposed the petition with only 20 percent expressing support.
“We must be careful not to jeopardize 100,000 jobs in a bid to save one struggling company with 1,000 jobs,” added Button. “The solar industry is expected to add about 24,000 jobs in 2012, but cost-prohibitive solar would put that growth at risk.”
To learn more about the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), please visit our website:www.coalition4affordablesolar.org.
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