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Trade Panel Ruling Gives Trump Authority to Cripple Nation's Solar Industry


Trade Panel Ruling Gives Trump Authority to Cripple Nation's Solar Industry

Julia Conley, staff writer

Lawmakers and the solar energy industry spoke out Friday against a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which voted in favor of two domestic solar power manufacturers that complained low-cost solar panel imports from China had harmed their businesses.

The ITC's ruling leaves it up to President Donald Trump to decide whether to penalize foreign companies by imposing tariffs on their imports, something that he has already threatened to do, which would increase the cost of installing solar panels.


The issue is what we consider the “US solar industry”. If the “US solar industry” means “contractors who install panels on my roof and my neighbor’s roof” then this rule hurts the US solar industry. If the “US solar industry” means “companies than manufacture, design and do research to develop solar energy” then this doesn’t cripple the industry, it helps it.

As a practical matter, the Chinese are dramatically undercutting US developers and manufacturers. They have bankrupted SolarWorld, Suniva, Suntech, Solyndra, and Evergreen Solar, and significantly damaged the value of other US solar manufacturers such as Sunpower and First Solar.

Consequently, the jobs that are being destroyed by the Chinese are the more high end ones - engineering, R+D and manufacturing. The jobs that are being left are the lower paid ones - the contractors and their laborers who do installation.


Instead of tariffs, how about taking all the money that subsidizes the fossil fuel industries and, instead, subsidize USA solar manufacturing to compete with China?


I just do not get the logic of people who are against solar. I do not see their point. If people can have the sun provide energy to their homes & business why is that not sensible and good. Myself I use wind power even tho I know solar would be less harmful to birds.


Great example why it’s completely and utterly false to claim that there’s no difference between politicians. None of this would have happened under Clinton, despite the defamations. None. To hell with voters who failed to make a simple choice between a rapist and a reasonable woman.


The protection is not accorded other industries and manufacturers who closed factories here to take advantage of low cost labor and economies of scale there. Yet it is applied to the manufacture of solar panels? Trump the protector of US solar??? Yeah sure he is.

Is solar becoming too efficient and cheap enough to supplant even coal? Yes it is…until now.


A valid distinction, but note that the article talks about 2 American companies that are the beneficiaries. Two. Compared to 9,000 US companies that are doing installations that are urgently needed. This is a setback not only to the U.S. (energy efficiency=economic advantage), but also more globally, to the planetary climate system,


To hell with those who, despite every warning sign,offered such an unacceptable choice to the voters. Those who did so are responsible for Trump; not those who in good conscience and reason could not support either.


Some will blame the Chinese; some the ITC, some Trump. But the problem is that the fossil fuels have continued to be subsidized so highly in the U.S. that the market place has long been skewed… putting U.S. renewable energy technology at an economic disincentive, stifling investment in R&D & manufacturing and generally making it a tough business.

That problem isn’t just a result of Trump’s misguided priorities - politicians of “both stripes” have failed to address the underlying inequities even though we’ve known for decades that we needed to shift rapidly to renewable energy development.

I don’t know the comparative history of Chinese policy, investments, etc., but clearly they are very far ahead. Their own national investment in renewables no doubt paved the way for industrial capacity that allowed them to take advantage of the gap in the U.S.

As long as subsidies for fossil fuels (including the externalized costs related to air & water pollution, climate destabilization, etc.) continue, so will such market “problems”.


Personally, I don’t think any business should be getting government protection - sink or swim on your own. I’m merely pointing out that the so-called “solar industry” isn’t monolithic - it all a matter of whose ox is getting gored.

And more than those two companies would benefit - any of the companies making solar panels in the US would benefit, which, while far fewer than 9,000 companies probably comprises half of the individuals employed, since a majority of those 9,000 companies are small installation contractors.


Your sink or swim theory would be very interesting, if it was tried on agriculture/agri-business and food production. 50% of corn production, in Iowa, goes to ethanol plants, etc.
As to subsidies; the more you subsidize something, the more you get of it. Hence, fossil fuels getting $$$ and tax breaks, etc. from the Feds ensures we’ll destroy the planet just that much more quickly.
Renewables, though, have the opposite effect. Odd, isn’t it?


An astoundingly bad ruling at an astoundingly bad time! If solar had been encouraged 20 years ago,
and had anywhere near the support, implicit and explicit, that the fossil-fuel companies have enjoyed
for decades from our government, China would not be so far ahead of us now. The rest of the world can’t wait for our Congress, largely controlled by Climate Change Deniers, to finally accept reality, if they ever do.


Indeed. If the Democrats actually cared about stopping such an odious man like Trump they would have swung with their best candidate. But no, they wanted a candidate that would keep their corporate interests intact. The only thing that makes me more sick these days than hearing these horrible actions the Trump administration is doing is hearing the Clinton defenders blame everyone but their own shitty candidate and corrupt party.


These kind of actions make America deserve to lose its place as the world’s sole superpower. Worryingly though the U.S. has shown in the past in what they can’t dominate economically they will try to dominate militarily.


Thank you, bloomcounty! By now this should be obvious. Be prepared for the backlash about to come at you, snapping and howling. Peace


Calling Clinton responsible is the epitome of an oxymoron. There is no proof any of this wouldn’t have happened under Clinton especially when her past as shown her bowing to corporate interests. You know what would this have never happened under? Bernie or Jill Stein. But no, blame those actually trying to change this country for the better.

Maybe there was a difference between Clinton and Trump but they were marginal at best. Both serve the same corporate interests in the end and people are sick of it.


This is indeed a systemic problem, not a Trump or Clinton problem. Recall Clinton, campaigning in the rust belt, bragging about how much the GM bailouts helped workers ? General election results confirmed that voters in those states didn’t agree with her.

Tariffs need to be added to those Buicks GM makes in China and sells in the US, especially in view of GM using their taxpayer funded bailout money to close US plants, buy back stock and build more car factories in China.


Marginal at best? Dream on. While Clinton may have her own set of baggage she is not an insane, moronic, lying serial sex offender like Trump is.


I am not sure but didn’t our government approve of the sale to china of the third largest manufacturer of solar (along with the technology) which in short order brought about the dumping of low cost solar panels which trashed the market for USA manufactured solar a few years ago leaving China with dominance in the manufacturing of solar? Plus there was that TTPT ruling that knocked back India’s investing in their own locally manufactured solar (which again had been contested by two USA manufacturers) driving up the cost of solar panels and putting a damper on India’s switch from coal etc?


I think you are correct. All barriers to implementation of solar need to be immediately revoked. The First World should assist countries such as India in going solar asap. This is much bigger than trade policies. We must innovate, not litigate!