Suntech Cites Import Tariffs for Closing Arizona Factory

Chinese solar manufacturer Suntech Power Holdings will stop production at its Goodyear, Ariz., solar panel facility on April 3, with 43 employees affected.

Higher production costs exacerbated by import tariffs on solar cells and aluminum frames imposed by the US government, as well as global solar module oversupply, contributed to the facility’s closure. The company says its decision is in line with Suntech’s global restructuring efforts to rationalize production capacity and reduce operating expenses by 20 percent in 2013.

In late 2012, the US International Trade Commission voted to impose unilateral tariffs of 35.97 percent on Suntech solar cells produced in China, a key component used at Suntech’s Goodyear production facility. The tariffs on solar cells came in addition to tariffs imposed by the US government in 2011 on aluminum frames, another key input for solar panel manufacturing. Both tariffs have made it more challenging for Suntech to cost-effectively manufacture solar modules in the US.

Suntech’s Goodyear, Ariz., manufacturing facility opened in October 2010. The facility reached peak production of 50 MW per year in 2011. In November 2012, the facility’s production throughput was scaled back to 15 MW per year.

Suntech Power Holdings’ Arizona factory was the company’s only manufacturing facility in the US.

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