Local news outlets are reporting that JinkoSolar’s solar panel manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Florida, was raided by federal agents on Monday. It was later confirmed by Reuters that Jinko’s California sales office was also under investigation.
A spokesperson confirmed to Jacksonville news outlets that Homeland Security Investigations, the main investigative arm of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, executed a search warrant at the factory. Agents from the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and local law enforcement were also on the scene.
A Jinko company spokesperson released the following: “JinkoSolar is committed to operating in accordance with the highest ethical standards and adhering to the laws and regulations of the countries where it operates, including the United States. Jinko, through external counsel, is engaging constructively with relevant agencies to understand the nature of the inquiry, and the company’s business operations are running normally, including in Jacksonville.”
JinkoSolar, a China-headquartered solar panel manufacturing giant, set up the 400-MW Jacksonville plant in 2018 and employs more than 270 workers. The company is planning on a $52 million expansion that would create another 250 full-time jobs. A $2.3 million economic development grant was approved last month. Jacksonville City Council was set to vote on additional measures later today.
“Due to overwhelming growth and demand of its product, JinkoSolar needs to triple their current capacity,” Jinko said in its summary to the City Council. That would possibly mean at least an 800-MW manufacturing expansion, bringing Jinko’s total U.S. manufacturing capacity to over 1 GW. See a list of U.S. manufacturers here.
Although a large Chinese producer of solar panels, Jinko also has a manufacturing presence in Malaysia and ships many modules for the U.S. market from its Southeast Asian operations. In the Dept. of Commerce’s ongoing investigation into whether Chinese solar companies are working in Southeast Asia as a way to avoid paying antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) on solar panel exports, Jinko’s Malaysian operations were found to not be circumventing the tariffs and preliminarily excluded from any additional taxes.
Chinese solar companies are also under extra scrutiny in the United States due to the implementation of the the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). The legislation bans all imported goods from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China unless suppliers can prove the products were not made with forced labor. Solar panels from Jinko and fellow Chinese players LONGi, Trina Solar and Canadian Solar have been detained in previous months for further investigation.
Story updated May 11 to include Jinko’s statement.