Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. says it will stop production at its Goodyear, Ariz., solar panel manufacturing facility on April 3. A total of 43 employees are expected to be affected.
According to Suntech, higher production costs – exacerbated by import tariffs on solar cells and aluminum frames imposed by the U.S. government – as well as global solar module oversupply contributed to the facility's closure. The decision is part of Suntech's global restructuring efforts to rationalize production capacity and reduce operating expenses by 20% in 2013.
On November 7, 2012, the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to impose unilateral tariffs of 35.97% 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 U.S. government in 2011 on aluminum frames, another key input for solar panel manufacturing.
The Goodyear manufacturing facility opened in October 2010. It reached peak production of 50 MW per year in 2011. In November 2012, production was scaled back to 15 MW per year.