Suniva, a Chinese-owned solar company, and SolarWorld, a German-owned solar company have filed a petition with the International Trade Commission. Both of these companies have filed for bankruptcy. These two companies are asking that the US federal government impose tariffs on imported solar cells and establish a minimum price for imported solar panels.
SolarWorld was behind another petition in 2012 that led to a trade tariff on imported Chinese solar panels. They claimed then that Chinese companies were dumping solar panels on the US market. The economic definition of dumping is selling a product below your cost which is obviously unsustainable over time. After the tariff on Chinese panels was imposed, production of solar panels by the affected companies moved to Taiwan, Vietnam and India. Interestingly, they were able to sell their products at the same price while producing them in these new locations. So are Taiwan, Vietnam and India dumping as well?
This new complaint by Suniva and SolarWorld argues that imported cells and panels need to have their prices artificially inflated (through a tariff) in order to protect domestic production of solar panels. And this is coming from German and Chinese owned companies.
So exactly which jobs and profits are being protected? SolarWorld employs 800 people in its Oregon factory and Suniva employs 300 people in Georgia. The corporate profits from these two companies go to Germany and China. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) estimates that if this tariff is imposed, about 2,000 jobs in Colorado will be lost and 88,000 solar jobs will be lost nationally.