The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), which the group says initially represents 25 organizations and more than 9,200 jobs in the U.S. solar sector, has formally launched.
CASE was formed in response to the October anti-dumping complaint and countervailing-duty petition filed by SolarWorld and its partners in the Coalition for Solar Manufacturing (CASM). According to CASE, this trade case poses a threat to the entire U.S. solar market.
‘Global competition is making affordable solar energy a reality in America and around the world,’ the group said in a statement. ‘SolarWorld's action to block or dramatically curtail solar cell imports from China places that goal at risk.
‘Protectionism harms the future of solar energy in America and negatively impacts consumers, ratepayers and over 100,000 American solar jobs,’ CASE continued. ‘The coalition is committed to growing a domestic solar industry, promoting innovation and making solar an affordable option for all Americans.’
‘The vast majority of the existing 100,000 jobs in the solar industry are in sales, marketing, design, installation and maintenance,’ added Jigar Shah, co-founder and chairman of CASE. Shah is also head of the Carbon War Room and was the founder of SunEdison. ‘These jobs depend on affordably priced solar panels, and companies would have to lay off workers if panel prices rose as a result of this petition.
‘Placing protectionist barriers against more efficient and affordable solar cells – whatever their origin – discourages innovation and investment,’ Shah added.
CASE represents the following companies: Alpine Solar Energy LLC, AltPOWER Inc., American Solar Systems Inc., Canadian Solar, Carbon War Room, Carolina Solar Energy LLC, Gaia Worldwide LLC, groSolar, Lighthouse Solar, Lumos, MEMC/SunEdison, PetersenDean, Recurrent Energy, Rochlin Corp., Russell Pacific, SolarCity, SolarFirst Inc., Sungevity, Suntech America, SunRun, Syncarpha Solar LLC, Trina Solar U.S. Inc., Verengo, Westinghouse Solar and Yingli Americas.
Meanwhile, approximately 75 employers have officially registered their support for the CASM by joining as associate members, according to the group.
The CASM explains that it offered the associate membership in response to the many employers who sought a way to help the coalition. Members range from CPP Solar of New York, a manufacturer in the industry's supply chain, to Energy Works Michigan, administrator of the nonprofit Michigan Renewable Schools Program, to Green LEED Associates, a sustainable architectural design firm in Texas.
According to the CASM, Chinese manufacturers export most production to tap demand incentives in markets in the West. Only one Chinese company employs more than a handful of workers in U.S. production: a small unit with annual capacity to do 50 MW of final panel assembly – approximately 2% of that company's estimated total capacity of 2.5 GW.Â
In addition, the CASM says that theÂ United Steelworkers (USW) – with 850,000 active members, the nation's largest union – has formally expressed its support.
‘Unfortunately, China continues to operate in a manner that is utterly inconsistent with its [World Trade Organization] obligations, which comes at the expense of developing our nation's clean energy sector and creating and sustaining clean energy jobs for American workers,’ said Leo W. Gerard, international president of USW, in the union's letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission. ‘We urge you to vigorously apply and enforce our trade laws in these solar cases so that American workers and domestic industries can have a fair chance to compete in the U.S. market.’
An ITC staff hearing is expected to be held Nov. 8.