Solar Industry Airs Dirty Laundry

August 8, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

laundry energy manageAt the end of July, the US Commerce Department determined that some Chinese solar manufacturers were using loopholes to avoid trade policies, and the agency has proposed expanding its penalties for selling (or “dumping”) solar modules in the United States at unfairly low prices.

This has exacerbated a conflict between solar manufacturer SolarWorld, which says it can’t compete against Chinese-government subsidized modules, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), for whom many of its members benefit from cheap solar modules.

Mukesh Dulani, president of SolarWorld Industries America issued an open letter to SEIA.

“To condemn the Commerce Department determination – the ninth consecutive US government finding of unfair trade practices by the Chinese solar industry – is both inappropriate and wrong,” wrote Dulani. “As SEIA is well aware, all countries and all industries are subject to international trade rules. Such rules ensure that nations and their producers do not create improper barriers to trade and use the false advantages of export dumping or illegal, export-oriented subsidies to prey on the producers of their trade partners. That you sanction the actions of some of your Chinese members to break US laws and World Trade Organization rules raises serious questions about the interests and intentions of SEIA, a trade association that pledged in 2011 to remain neutral in this dispute.”

Although Dulani indicated SolarWorld is open to negotiations with the US and Chinese governments and other stakeholders, he wrote, “It is my goal that both sides will pursue an amicable solution, and I request your support toward this end. In particular, I ask that you cease your improper, divisive rhetoric and advocacy of obsolete proposals, both of which can only thwart progress toward a viable and lasting agreement.”

For its part, SEIA issued a somewhat conciliatory statement, saying “Since the divisive solar trade war first erupted in 2011, SEIA has been steadfast in its support for the rules-based global trading system, including trade remedy proceedings.”

Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, wrote in a letter to SolarWorld’s leadership. “Continued litigation is bad for the industry and, we believe, bad for SolarWorld. SEIA’s settlement proposal remains the best path forward. But we will not preclude any settlement option that serves the greater interests of the US solar industry.”

Resch also stressed that SEIA represents the entire solar value chain in the United States – including manufacturers, installers, financiers, engineers, project developers, consultants and retailers – and is committed to finding an “industry-wide solution.”

Photo: Laundry via Shutterstock

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