The U.S. Department of Commerce has opened public comment regarding its recent decision to conduct a circumvention investigation related to solar imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and the American Clean Power Association has reported that lawmakers and industry players have lined up to express their concerns.
ACP says numerous filings submitted this week from solar companies to the commerce department “make a strong case to rebut, clarify or correct information submitted by Auxin Solar,” the company whose pressure prompted the department’s investigation.
Auxin Solar alleges that solar panels originating from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are circumventing duties that are in place on Chinese solar cells and panels.
“The vast majority of the U.S. solar energy industry opposes the Department of Commerce’s investigation into solar imports from select southeast Asian countries,” says Heather Zichal, ACP’s CEO. “The department’s investigation is having a devastating impact on the whole of the U.S. solar industry.”
ACP notes that a bipartisan coalition of 22 U.S. senators has submitted a letter to Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo, stating in part, “initiation of the investigation is already negatively impacting the U.S. solar industry, and the longer this situation persists, the more acute the damage will be.”
“Accordingly, we strongly urge your administration to make an expedited preliminary determination in this matter and carefully consider the significant policy ramifications on American businesses, workers, and ratepayers,” the letter continues.
Moreover, a letter from the Laborers’ International Union of North America to Raimondo says, “Due to the Department of Commerce taking up Auxin’s petition, the growth of the U.S. solar industry has stopped dead in its tracks, which will inevitably lead to more layoffs as companies can no longer employ workers without panels to start or complete projects.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom also registered his thoughts: “Given the threat posed to the grid from extreme heat, wildfires and a severe drought that has reduced our hydroelectric generation capacity, we need to accelerate, not slow down, the deployment of clean energy and storage projects. I respectfully urge you to take immediate action to resolve this issue as soon as possible and restore certainty in the market,” he wrote in a letter to Raimondo.
ACP points to a recent report from FTI Consulting Inc. that shows “how Auxin and the commerce department relied on faulty assertions in a BloombergNEF (BNEF) report, which are contradicted by BNEF’s own data, Auxin’s own statements and other public information.”
The public comment period closes on May 9.