Major US businesses and members of the Ceres BICEP Network have this week added their voices to the many already hoping the US International Trade Commission will reconsider imposing a solar tariff following the ruling in the Suniva and SolarWorld Section 201 solar trade case.
In a letter sent to the International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday, over 40 businesses and members of Ceres BICEP Network — including big names like eBay, IKEA, L’Oreal, Mars, and Starbucks — called on the ITC to reconsider its recommendation that tariffs or trade restrictions should be imposed on imported solar products, highlighting the potential impacts on US businesses and homeowners.
“As major businesses in the US economy, we oppose the recommendation of trade restrictions by the International Trade Commission that would increase costs and slow US deployment of solar energy,” the businesses wrote in a letter (PDF) to Chairman Rhonda Schmidtlein and Vice Chairman David Johanson and commissioners Irving Williamson and Meredith Broadbent. “As the Commission prepares to submit injury and remedy recommendations to the President by November 13, the BICEP network reminds the Commission that imposing trade restrictions on imported solar panels would harm our economy and the fast-growing solar energy industry in the US.”
“Restricting solar imports would decrease our nation’s overall energy security and increase solar installation costs for businesses and homeowners,” said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP Network at Ceres. “Instead of pursuing potentially harmful trade restrictions, the U.S. government should adopt policies that encourage innovation and create jobs.”
The US solar industry, currently employing approximately 260,000, could likely suffer a cut to employment in the range of 88,000 if a 40-cent per watt tariff on solar cells and a 78-cent per watt price floor on modules was implemented. However, the ITC was well aware of this possibility when it first ruled in favor of petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld — given that GTM Research highlighted the potential damage to the US solar industry all the way back in June.
Beyond the impact on the solar industry itself, the letter from the Ceres BICEP Network — a group founded in 2009 that represents over 40 “influential companies advocating for stronger climate and clean energy policies at the state and federal level in the US” — also highlights the fact that “increased solar prices would hinder businesses’ and homeowners’ ability to purchase solar power.”
“As companies committed to the use of renewable energy, we rely on the availability of solar infrastructure to achieve our sustainability goals,” the letter states.
“Increasing the cost of solar panels through trade restrictions would therefore threaten jobs, slow solar deployment, and impose costs to taxpayers,” they concluded, adding that such a move “This would hurt America’s economy and energy security without measurably improving the solar domestic manufacturing industry. Our network urges you not to recommend trade restrictions on solar cells that would raise prices on solar and therefore limit our nation’s ability to invest in renewable energy infrastructure.”