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Congress Votes to Reinstate Tariffs on Solar Panels from Southeast Asian Countries

Congress Votes to Reinstate Tariffs on Solar Panels from Southeast Asian Countries

Representatives of the solar industry are upset of the potential loss of the cheap supply.

The solar industry is one of this country’s most heavily subsidized and hand-held industries.

With promises of tax breaks, energy savings, and other supports, solar power has increased dramatically.

In 2010, solar and wind combined made up only 1.7% of global electricity generation. By last year, it had climbed to 8.7% — far higher than what had previously been predicted by mainstream energy models. For example, in 2012 the International Energy Agency expected that global solar energy generation would reach 550 terrawatt-hours in 2030, but that number was exceeded by 2018. These models often assume that the growth of solar and wind will be linear, but in reality the growth has been exponential.

However, price-based realities may soon darken expectations of exponential growth based on increased costs since Congress voted to reinstate tariffs on solar panels from several Southeast Asian Countries.

The Senate approved a measure Wednesday that would reinstate tariffs on solar panel imports from several Southeast Asian countries after President Joe Biden paused them in a bid to boost solar installations in the U.S.

Lawmakers also approved a separate plan to undo federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken, a rare grouse that’s found in parts of the Midwest and Southwest, including one of the country’s most prolific oil and gas fields.

The two measures are part of efforts by newly empowered Republicans to rebuke the Democratic president and block some of his administration’s initiatives, particularly on the environment. Republicans control the House and have strong sway in the closely divided Senate, where California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein remains out for health reasons and conservatives such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., often side with the GOP.

Biden has pledged to veto the bill, and the veto could only be overturned with a two-thirds Senate majority.

The basis for the measure is that it is believed the counties are helping circumvent restrictions from panels made in China.

The tariff moratorium was imposed to keep solar panels coming into the country as the U.S. boosts capacity. Solar energy is a key step toward reaching the White House’s climate goals.

The president had issued the moratorium amid a Commerce Department probe into whether companies were circumventing tariffs on Chinese shipments of solar products to the U.S. Commerce was looking at a complaint alleging that eight solar companies manufacture solar cells and components in China, then send those cells and modules to Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for “minor processing” before exporting them to the U.S. The department preliminarily found that four of the eight companies were attempting to bypass U.S. duties by doing minor processing in one of the Southeast Asian nations.

Representatives of the solar industry are upset about the potential loss of the cheap supply.

If the two-year moratorium is lifted, U.S. solar developers could face a total of $1 billion in retroactive tariffs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association [SEIA]. The legislation could also eliminate 30,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in domestic investment, the group estimated.

Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, said in a statement that the U.S. can’t produce enough solar panels and cells to meet demand, and the remaining months of Biden’s moratorium provides the country time to close that gap.

“The United States can get there and become a global leader in clean energy manufacturing and development,” Hopper said. “Overturning the moratorium at this stage puts that future at risk.”

A review of the numbers shows why the solar industry is concerned.

China controls more than 80 percent of the world’s solar panel production, a figure that hasn’t waned as Biden spends hundreds of billions of dollars on green energy subsidies intended to give the United States the ability to “compete with China.” Instead, U.S. solar companies have been flooded with increased demand and have turned to China to satisfy it.

A reimposition of Chinese solar tariffs would cost U.S. developers at least $1 billion in retroactive fees, prompting solar executives and trade groups to publicly stress their need to maintain a free flow of cheap Chinese goods.

Legal Insurrection readers may recall that Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act offered billions of dollars in tax incentives for facilities using American equipment to accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. power sector while creating domestic jobs.

Like everything else associated with Biden, that move is full of fail.

Array Technologies Inc (ARRY.O) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which makes solar trackers, said its business has not yet experienced an expected IRA-related boom.

“The main feedback we get is that there needs to be clarification from the Department of Treasury on what qualifies as domestic content under the IRA,” CEO Kevin Hostetler said on a call with investors last month.

A Treasury Department spokesperson said the agency was “focused on providing clarity and certainty for taxpayers and ensuring the bonus as written in the statute is workable for taxpayers.”

..In February, top U.S. solar manufacturer First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) said it would delay further expansion decisions until Treasury releases its guidelines.

Reality can’t be legislated…it can only be experienced.


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Uncle Xi won’t like this. Joe is going to have some explaining to do.

RepublicanRJL | May 4, 2023 at 9:49 am

America First.

Where have I heard this before?

CommoChief | May 4, 2023 at 9:53 am

For the near term you can have ‘green’ energy or you can have US manufacturing of ‘green’ energy components but you can’t get both. Not until the manufacturers are up and running in the US and he US govt allows more mining of our own resources to supply raw materials.

Yet another unsolvable issue for the d/prog in time for 2024. Choose US manufacturing and US workers or choose ‘green’ activists and workers outside the US.

    jb4 in reply to CommoChief. | May 4, 2023 at 10:46 am

    I read a while ago that a brand new mine can take something like 10+ years to develop. More mining of our own might be a pipe dream in the time frame that these folks have in mind. Might it be more practical and better for the climate to adopt the lifestyle of the Amish, or perhaps the Neanderthals?

      henrybowman in reply to jb4. | May 4, 2023 at 11:04 am

      But the Biden Administration is actively attacking the lifestyle of the Amish.
      Democrats are what result when Procrustes breeds with Goldilocks.

      Ironclaw in reply to jb4. | May 4, 2023 at 11:23 am

      Why would you buy the premise that we are changing the climate?

      CommoChief in reply to jb4. | May 4, 2023 at 12:26 pm

      Had they not been doing the same thing during the Obama years I might be more sympathetic to the arguments about long lead times.

      I fully endorse your prescription; mandate every public true believer in ‘climate catastrophe’ be forced to live as the Amish do regarding lack of most modern technology. The Amish do use batteries though ….

E Howard Hunt | May 4, 2023 at 9:55 am

They are so ugly. I would never defile my gorgeous slate roof with these eyesores.

    gonzotx in reply to E Howard Hunt. | May 4, 2023 at 10:45 am

    I hate them and peope around me destroying their trees putting in these things

    I’ve often heard mixed reviews on cost savings, what is true?

      E Howard Hunt in reply to gonzotx. | May 4, 2023 at 10:55 am

      The truth is that as conditions now exist one does save money at the expense of others- all due to government subsidy and regulation. If it becomes more widespread, nobody will save money. It is a crooked, short-sighted, unscientific mess.

        gonzotx in reply to E Howard Hunt. | May 4, 2023 at 11:03 am

        I mean in energy savings, monthly bills, it actually saves money or because it’s solar you’re given a discount?

          henrybowman in reply to gonzotx. | May 4, 2023 at 11:10 am

          The original reply is still the best. The only reason you “save” money is because governments subsidize you from the tax money of others, at the point of a gun. If all the fake subsidies stopped tomorrow, you’d be paying more for solar electric than for grid electric. The paradox of solar is that the regions with the best sun availability also have the greatest refrigeration (A/C) requirements, and those overwhelm current solar technology. Any true cost reductions you see from harnessing solar energy are eaten up at the far end when it comes time to replace your panels, which have a limited life.

          Ironclaw in reply to gonzotx. | May 4, 2023 at 11:23 am

          You save money because of the subsidies. If you were made to shoulder the full burden of the initial cost, you would not recover that before the panels were at end of life and needed replacement.

          CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | May 4, 2023 at 12:34 pm

          With subsidies close to break even on a system with batteries. Without subsidies it is a very high cost.

          The point in their favor is you can generate and store your own electricity which may be a very good idea given the brown outs and lack of grid reliability in areas which adopted grid scale ‘renewables’.

          IMO the argument that ‘subsidies’ are somehow morally wrong is not correct. The govt provides all sorts of market distorting subsidies the most common is the deduction for mortgage interest. I don’t see folks lining up to condemn it which reflects the old saw about who’s ox is getting gored.

          henrybowman in reply to gonzotx. | May 4, 2023 at 4:14 pm

          I realize that money is fungible, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to use the word “subsidy” when the government decides to rob one person less than it robs another. I get the same taste when an agency asks for a budget increase of 30 quatloos, the House gives them 20, then boasts to us that they “reduced spending” by 10.

          txvet2 in reply to gonzotx. | May 4, 2023 at 11:21 pm

          Taking the politics out of it, if you can get the government to subsidize the original installation of panels and battery storage, yes, you will save money because you won’t be getting a bill from the electric company. However, your taxes as well as mine will be paying your bill. You seem a little too libertarian for that tradeoff, but the prospect of free stuff tempts a lot of people, if you can ignore the fact that you’re just on welfare by any other name. Hypocrisy rules the day.

“In 2010, solar and wind combined made up only 1.7% of global electricity generation. By last year, it had climbed to 8.7%….”

Note the word ‘generation’ in there. Not every watt generated by Green is used, and for a large part they can be wasted since they are cranking out power when they can instead of when the grid needs it.

    Ironclaw in reply to georgfelis. | May 4, 2023 at 3:23 pm

    Oh, you mean how they generate the most during the day when most residential areas are at their lowest need for power? But at night when most residential areas are their highest need for power, they generate nothing?

This is the model of the 3/5 compromise to mitigate pro-labor and pro-environmental arbitrage in the not so novel Green deal.

I’m sure that Brandon the pedophile will gladly veto this because he likes his 10% from China

BierceAmbrose | May 4, 2023 at 7:59 pm

So, they mandate and subsidize doing a thing because Good and Right, then find a way to slice off a viggorish from doing that thing.

This is my shocked face.