SEIA pledges to take the lead on opposing Suniva trade petition

SEIA’s president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper assured reporters the organization will take the lead on opposing Suniva’s Section 201 petition to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

Suniva’s petition calls for trade tariffs on foreign solar cells. Hopper called the petition an “existential threat” to the solar industry.

The conference call comes the week after SEIA sent a letter to the secretary of the ITC citing three reasons why the ITC shouldn’t open an investigation. First, it cites, “Suniva is not representative of the domestic CSPV cell/module industry on whose behalf it purports to seek safeguard relief. Second, the relief sought by Suniva would be extremely damaging. Third, a safeguard proceeding would undercut, not promote, effective action to address the underlying problem of global excess CSPV cell/module manufacturing capacity.”

Hopper said the big question the organization will aim to answer in the coming months is, how can they support domestic manufacturing while not putting a damper on the solar business? When pressed on globalization’s impact on the industry, she said SEIA is an advocate of free and fair trade.

Hopper said installer participation is crucial to put faces to the effect the trade petition could have: Massive job loss and lowered demand for solar panels.

“We invite them to join us in that effort,” Hopper said, on both the national and state level. She said the solar industry is easier to ignore when you don’t see the faces of the affected workers.

Hopper said SEIA expects the ITC to announce shortly whether it will open an investigation on the petition. If it decides to open an investigation, the ITC will have four months to determine if there has been injury. If it decides there has been injury, it will have another two months to suggest a remedy to President Trump. Finally, President Trump has an additional two months to determine what the appropriate remedy may be.

Hopper said if the ITC decides there’s injury, SEIA’s role is to help ensure that the ITC has a full record of the solar industry, including an understanding of the market, what kind of company Suniva is, and everything about the solar value chain.

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