Biden expands Trump-era solar tariffs, but eases some – Boston News, Weather, Sports

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday extended tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on most solar panels imported from China and other countries. But in a nod to his efforts to fight climate change and boost clean energy, Biden has ruled out tariffs on some panels used in large-scale utility projects.

Biden said he would maintain Trump-imposed tariffs on imported solar cells and panels for four years, but he exempted so-called bifacial solar panels that can generate electricity from both sides and are now used in many large solar projects. The technology was still emerging when the tariffs were first imposed by Trump.

“By excluding bifacial panels, we will ensure that solar deployment continues at the pace and scale needed to meet the President’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals and create good jobs at home,” Biden said in a statement. Along with clean energy provisions in his still stalled “Build Back Better” initiative, actions on solar “will allow us to rebuild a sustainable, competitive and technologically advanced domestic solar industry,” Biden said.

Biden also doubled an import quota on solar cells — the main components of panels that go to rooftops and utility sites — to 5 gigawatts, allowing for more imported cells used by domestic manufacturers. The United States does not currently produce solar cells and the administration wants to ensure that domestic suppliers “don’t have to pay tariffs on a key input to their manufacturing process,” a senior official said Friday. responsible for administration.

The cells come from places like Vietnam or Malaysia – not China, the official said. “There is no reason to think that increasing the (import quota) will in any way help China,” the official said, a claim that some U.S. solar makers disputed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment publicly.

Biden had to choose from competing constituencies on solar power, a key part of his climate and clean energy agenda. Unions support import restrictions to protect domestic jobs, while the solar industry relies heavily on cheap panels imported from China and other countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

The American Clean Power Association, a renewable energy group representing both installers and manufacturers, hailed the administration’s decision, calling it “a win for jobs and a win for the president’s climate agenda.” .

Biden’s decision to extend tariffs on imported solar cells and panels “gives the domestic solar manufacturing industry an additional four years to adjust to import competition as required by law,” Heather said. Zichal, CEO of the group. She is a former energy adviser to President Barack Obama.

Biden has set a goal to reduce emissions of the planet-warming greenhouse gases by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and solar energy is a key part of that program. . The administration approved two large-scale solar projects in California in December and backed a third solar farm there last month. A recent Department of Energy report indicates that solar power has the potential to supply up to 40% of the nation’s electricity within 15 years, ten times more than current solar generation.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents solar installers, said she was disappointed with the tariff extension but said Biden “has reached a balanced solution by maintaining excluding bifacial panels and increasing the tariff quota for (solar) cells”.

Biden’s decision “recognizes the importance of this innovative technology” and is “a massive step forward in producing clean energy in America and in the fight against climate change,” Hopper said.

Trump endorsed tariffs on imported solar power components in 2018, saying his administration would always defend American workers and businesses against unfair competition. Tariffs were initially set at 30%, then reduced to 18%, then 15%. They were due to expire on Sunday without action from Biden.

According to Biden’s decision, tariffs will be set at 14.75% and will be gradually reduced to 14%.

Since the tariffs were imposed, the production of solar panels in the United States has tripled. Chinese and South Korean companies have set up factories in Georgia, Florida and Alabama, and an American company, First Solar Inc., has expanded domestic production at a factory in Ohio.

Mark Widmar, chief executive of Arizona-based First Solar, said his company was “deeply disappointed” with Biden’s decision to exclude bifacial panels from tariffs.

The exclusion tips the playing field towards China and other major producers “by providing illegally subsidized bifacial panels an instant and artificial advantage over other types of panels,” Widmar said. Given China’s dominance in bifacial panel production, “this move effectively allows China to leapfrog U.S. efforts to develop stand-alone solar supply chains,” he said.

A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers also blasted the decision, which they said “undermines American workers and manufacturers at a time when domestic solar production is poised to expand dramatically.”

Republican Senator Rob Portman, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and Democratic Representatives Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan said in a joint statement that China “has a long history of massive subsidization of its solar companies and dumping of solar panels made with exploited workers in other markets. These types of products should not enter the United States duty free. »

Opposing that view is Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., whose state has the most solar jobs per capita in the nation.

While she appreciates Biden’s decision to exclude bifacial panels, “the overall decision to extend these harmful tariffs is disappointing and remains the wrong approach,” Rosen said. The tariffs “harm America’s clean energy economy by unnecessarily hindering domestic solar projects and driving up costs, while not incentivizing domestic manufacturing,” she said, pledging to fight against solar tariffs “including through legislation”.

In a related action, the Biden administration said it would enter talks with Canada and Mexico to export their products to the United States duty-free.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Join our newsletter for the latest news straight to your inbox

About Jefferey G. Cannon

Check Also

Fran Saatzer – Brainerd Dispatch

Fran Saatzer (82), surrounded by her family, was introduced into the arms of Jesus on …