Solar panel maker that hasn’t produced solar panels since 2017 seeks extension of solar panel tariffs

One of the companies pushing for an extension of US tariffs on imported solar panels hasn’t actually built a solar panel in several years – and it doesn’t seem to be doing much at the moment.

Suniva, an Atlanta-based company founded in 2007, is one of two companies to officially have petition the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to extend former President Donald Trump’s 30% tariff on imported solar panels. These tariffs, imposed in 2018 and set to expire in 2022, currently add 18% to the cost of imported solar panels. In their petition, Suniva and Auxin Solar told the ITC that the extension was necessary “to secure America’s solar independence.”

But it’s fair to wonder what, exactly, this extension of solar panel protectionism is meant to protect. Suniva stopped its production lines in 2016, according to The Wall Street Journaland now says it can only restart them if tariffs – which, again, have been in place since 2018 – are extended.

The ITC should be fairly skeptical of this argument. After all, Suniva declared bankruptcy in 2017, but only after receiving over $20 million in tax credits, like Raison reported at the time.

What is Suniva doing now? It’s hard to say. The company’s website doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2016 – the most recent press release available on the site is dated December 15, 2016 and touts the successful expansion of Suniva’s manufacturing facility into the Atlanta suburb of Norcross. This same factory was closed just three months later, in March 2017, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Company officials said at the time that the closure was “temporary”. Bankruptcy deposits obtained speak the Chronicle in April 2017, however, foreshadowed a bleak future for the company, which at the time had about 10 times more liabilities than assets and owed money to “up to 1,000 creditors”. Suniva finally emerged from bankruptcy in 2019 and was purchased by Lion Point Capitala New York-based hedge fund.

Calls and emails from Raison to the media contact listed in this December 2016 press release has not been dismissed. Of the society Facebook page has not been updated since 2017.

In short, the only thing Suniva seems to be doing these days is fabricating additional pricing requests. The company, which was already bankrupt, was a leading defender of Trump’s solar panel tariffs in 2018. Much of the U.S. solar panel industry opposed the effort at the time, fearing that tariffs only increase prices and reduce demand.

It’s always true. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade association, is calling on ITC to end what it calls “job killer” tariffs that have been “a multi-billion dollar drag on dollars to the growth of the industry”.

“If we hope to achieve our ambitious climate goals, we need to accelerate solar deployment, not stymie it with unnecessarily punitive trade measures,” said John Smirnow, vice president of market strategy at SEIA. . A declaration. “The way to create more manufacturing in the United States is long-term federal investments, not short-sighted tariffs.”

This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when governments start trying to pick winners and losers with protectionist trade policies. Rather than compete in the marketplace – a competition that Suniva has clearly lost, despite considerable help from taxpayers – some companies will try to destroy their competition by influencing government policy.

It would be nice if we could assume that the ITC would scoff at Suniva’s tariff extension request. Unfortunately, that would require trusting the bureaucrats who manage America’s increasingly absurd trade policies.

Terri S. Tomasini