Business, Economics and Jobs

Chinese solar panels slammed with huge US tariffs


A giant solar panel on the outside of Chinese company Suntech Power Holdings Co.


Peter Parks

The US Department of Commerce said today that it will seek to slap tariffs ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent on solar panels imported from China, the Guardian reported.

The Commerce Dept. decided to impose the tariffs after concluding that China is “dumping” its solar panels on the US market by selling them for less than their actual cost, according to USA Today.

The fees are to be charged on top of import duties ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent that the Commerce Dept. imposed on Chinese solar panels in March, the Guardian reported. Those duties are designed to remove the advantage that the US government claims Chinese solar-panel makers derive from unfair government subsidies.

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The decision has gotten a mixed reaction from US solar manufacturers, USA Today reported. Helios, New Jersey-based MX Solar USA, which filed a petition with the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission last October charging that Chinese companies were illegally dumping solar cells, cheered the news.

Commerce's ruling "is a bellwether decision," Steve Ostrenga, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Helios Solar Works, said, according to USA Today. "It underscores the importance of domestic manufacturing to the US economy and will help determine whether the country will be a global competitor in clean technologies or outsource them China. It is also critically important for thousands of US workers."

However, other US solar companies fear the tariffs will raise prices and thus dampen interest in solar while potentially setting off a trade war, the Guardian reported.

"We think it's raising taxes 31 percent on solar cells, and we think it's going to increase solar electricity prices in the US precisely at the moment that solar power is becoming competitive," Jigar Shah, who heads the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, said in a statement, according to the Guardian.

According to USA Today:

The department is expected to make its final decision this fall and will begin collecting the tariffs if the International Trade Commission determines in November that the under-priced panels are injuring the solar industry.

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