Coalition asks SolarWorld to back off China complaint

A business group representing solar installers is asking SolarWorld to abandon its request for tariffs on cheap Chinese solar panels.

A business group representing solar installers is asking SolarWorld to abandon its request for tariffs on cheap Chinese solar panels.

A coalition of companies in the solar installation business on Tuesday asked SolarWorld to back off from its request for tariffs on inexpensive solar panels imported from China, claiming that tariffs could cost the U.S. solar industry $11 billion in 2012.

In a letter to Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, or CASE as it's known, asked that the company withdraw the petition filed with the International Trade Commission asking for relief from unfair Chinese competitive practices.

"The severe tariffs SolarWorld seeks would have a very damaging effect on the solar industry in the United States and would fundamentally undermine many years of effort by all of us who care about the future of solar power," wrote Jigar Shah, CASE's president in the letter. "In simple dollar terms, your petition threatens the planned installation of solar electric power systems in the amount of $11 billion in 2012 and the potential installation of $60 billion currently in the total pipeline."

Shah also pointed out that U.S. solar exports to China totaled more than $1.5 billion, trade that the coalition says would be lost if SolarWorld's efforts ignite a solar trade war.

CASE claims 145 member companies with over 14,000 employees โ€” for the most part in the business of installing solar panels. Shah stated that the installers make up 97 percent of the industry while manufacturing โ€” SolarWorld leads the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing โ€” comprises just 3 percent of the U.S. industry.

In a response statement issued by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, Brinser called Shah's letter an "inappropriate bluster."

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