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SPI Today - Tuesday, September 12, 2017
1 Solar Power InternationalToday • www.solarpowerinternational.com S olar Power International’s Monday General Session opened with a warning as SEIA President & Chief Executive Officer Abigail Ross-Hop- per told attendees, “We need to be clear—88,000 jobs are at stake.” She was referring to the possible impact the Suniva solar trade case currently pending at the U.S. Inter- national Trade Commission could have if the federal government im- poses high tariffs on imported solar cells and solar panels. Ross-Hopper gave an overview of the case before introducing her roundtable guests who discussed the threat to the industry. The case developed when manufacturer Suniva, the company responsible for 20 percent of all crystalline silica solar panels manu- factured in the U.S., declared bank- ruptcy. Suniva was joined shortly after by SolarWorld. Suniva filed the case under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. Under this section, the ruling will not depend on finding illegal activity. Instead, the ITC’s investigation will look at whether items “are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported ar- ticles.” The ITC is scheduled to vote on the merits of the petitioners’ case on September 22. On October 3, the commission has set a hearing on what remedies may be imposed on importers if an injury is identified. The ITC is scheduled to vote on that remedy on October 31. President Trump will receive any recommendations by November 13, at which time he may or may not accept any proposed tariffs with a decision possibly coming by the end of the year. The commission’s decision, and the President’s actions, could deal a massive blow to the solar indus- try—a message echoed by analysts at Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg New Energy Finance who suggest a doubling of solar panel prices in the United States. With that, Ross-Hopper intro- duced the session panelists, includ- ing George Hershman, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Swinerton Renewable Energy, who pointed out the “industry would lose out on [the building of] more than 47 gigawatts [in production capacity] over the next five years if Suniva and SolarWorld’s remedies are adopted. This is more solar than is currently installed in the United States.” The potential to increase costs, thus slowing growth in the industry to a crawl as people wait to see if, and how much, prices increase has a people-component that panelist Bill Vietas, President of RBI Solar, said “is imperative we get worked out.” Citing potential negative effects to his 325 employees, he pointed out, “We also train others... installation crews, people in the steel industry,” and “you’ve got two companies holding our industry hostage.” The idea of “trickle down” poten- Solar Power International Today is published three days annually by Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC, 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 680, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA, (703) 738-9460. © 2016 S olar Energy Trade Show s, LLC. All rights reserved for all articles contained herein except where otherwise noted. Printed in the USA. Las Vegas, Nevada September 12, 2017 TUESDAY Continued on page 6 ® POWERED BY Today General Session PanelWarns of Section 201Trade Petition Impact From right, SEIA President & Chief Executive Officer Abigail Ross-Hopper hosts panelists George Hershman, Swinerton Renewable Energy; Ed Fenster, Sunrun; and Bill Vietas, RBI Solar.
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