A judgment issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission on September 22, 2017 could have significant ramifications for the U.S. solar industry. In a unanimous decision, the Commission found that solar cell imports are causing serious injury to the domestic solar cell market. The decision follows a petition for relief filed by two U.S.-based solar panel manufacturers.
As the next step in the process, the Commission held a public hearing on October 3, 2017 on the petitioners’ proposed remedy, which includes a tariff on solar cell imports. The Commission must then submit its remedy recommendations to President Trump by November 13, 2017.
Ultimately, President Trump will make the final decision on whether to provide relief. If the President grants the tariff requested by the petitioners, it would almost double the cost to purchase solar panels in the United States. Such an outcome is within the realm of possibility considering the President’s past support for protectionist policies.
Although a remedy could help the U.S. solar cell market, it could hurt the overall U.S. solar industry, which includes not just manufacturers but also rooftop installers and solar farms currently benefiting from cheap solar panels. The nation’s largest solar trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, appeared at the October 3 public hearing to oppose the petitioned-for relief. We will provide an update as the issue progresses.