With an expected preliminary decision on the Dept. of Commerce’s AD/CVD circumvention investigation pushed to Dec. 1, SEIA and 240 solar companies have sent a letter to Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo requesting she reject the original petition.
The Commerce investigation started in March 2022 after California-based solar panel assembler Auxin Solar petitioned for a review of Chinese solar panel manufacturers moving portions of their manufacturing operations to Southeast Asia as a way to circumvent anti-dumping/countervailing duties (AD/CVD) in place against Chinese solar manufacturers since 2012. Specifically, Auxin wanted a deeper look at solar operations in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to determine if Chinese wafers, aluminum frames, backsheets and more have been used in exported cells and modules. If enough Chinese product is found in Southeast Asian module exports, DOC could extend the AD/CVD to the mentioned countries.
Commerce must make its preliminary determination in this potential circumvention case by Dec. 1, and the companies on this letter make clear that an affirmative determination is not justified and will stifle America’s ability to deploy clean energy.
“President Biden took a crucial near-term step over the summer to free up a gridlocked solar supply chain, but companies won’t be able to capitalize on the administration’s landmark climate policy if this baseless case isn’t thrown out,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “The Inflation Reduction Act has launched a steady stream of manufacturing investments in the United States, but more tariffs will only undermine this success.”
The Biden Administration stepped in this June by issuing an executive order placing a two-year pause on any tariffs related to this case “in order to ensure the U.S. has access to a sufficient supply of solar modules to meet electricity generation needs while domestic manufacturing scales up.” Commerce would continue its investigation while giving U.S. contractors some breathing room to get projects online in the interim.
The U.S. solar and storage industry, backed by SEIA, remains firm that the case lacks legal merit. Solar cell and module manufacturing requires specialized equipment and is an intensive process. Because of the significant and major manufacturing work done in the Southeast Asian countries named in the investigation — a region that has previously supplied 80% of U.S. solar module demand — SEIA says the case initiated by Auxin Solar does not meet the standard for circumvention.
The manufacturing provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act put SEIA’s goal of 50 GW of U.S. solar production by 2030 within reach, but Commerce could crush demand with unjustified tariffs. The companies in the letter are calling on Commerce to drop the investigation so the solar and storage industry can continue to grow and invest in domestic manufacturing production.
Companies signing the letter include utility-scale and residential installers, developers, panel manufacturers, inverter manufacturers, mounting manufacturers, software companies, battery suppliers and more.
If the Dept. of Commerce issues its preliminary decision on Dec. 1, its final decision would come on May 1, 2023.