Our opinion: Solar plan is step back for U.S.
In his bid to support increased adoption of solar energy across the country, President Joe Biden handed a victory to China that could hurt our own solar industry.
Biden’s administration announced last week it will authorize the use of the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies, including solar panel parts. Fine.
But then, in a one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach, it also will ban new tariffs for two years on solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Because Chinese solar production companies have already shifted their production to many of these Southeast Asian countries, the Biden administration has essentially given China permission to work around existing tariffs.
“Today’s proclamation directly undermines American solar manufacturing by giving unfettered access to China’s state-subsidized solar companies for the next two years,” Samantha Sloan, vice president for First Solar, told cleveland.com.
“This sends the message that companies can circumvent American laws and that the U.S. government will let them get away with it as long as they’re backed by deep-pocketed political pressure campaigns.”
First Solar manufactures solar panels in Perrysburg, Ohio. Sloan went on to stress that, in addition to failing to allow the transition to greater use of green energy technology to be driven by American manufacturers, the use of the Defense Production Act is “an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars and falls well short of a durable solar industrial policy.”
Even U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, saw through the nonsense.
“China’s long history of dumping and tariff evasion demands strict scrutiny and appropriate penalties,” Kaptur said.
“While I welcome the administration’s focus on boosting domestic manufacturing of critical solar components — any effort that further tilts the playing field in favor of China is wrong for the American workers who are fed up with predatory trade practices. We have seen China play this game before on everything from steel to solar. We must invest in the American companies that are working to deliver an affordable, reliable, and secure energy future.”
Taxpayers won’t like it, the domestic solar industry doesn’t like it, and Biden’s allies in Congress don’t like it.
One wonders, then, who was Biden trying to please?