Biden to pause DOC tariffs for two years while investigation continues

Reuters reported first that President Joe Biden remove any tariffs from the Dept. whether to delay Commerce research on imported solar panels from Southeast Asia by two years.

Many in the solar industry, and many federal and state officials, have pleaded with Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, to quickly resolve the inquiry into whether Chinese solar companies have anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) that have been in effect since 2012 by manufacturing parts of their products in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The investigation effectively halted the supply of solar panels to the United States and halted progress on utility-scale projects.

by a Statement from the White House, the Biden administration has announced that it will halt all tariffs related to this matter until 2024 (Section 201 tariffs are still in effect) “to ensure the U.S. has access to an adequate supply of solar panels to meet the electricity generation needs while domestic production scales up.” Meanwhile, Commerce continues its investigation. A source told Reuters that no retroactive charges would be applied, so major solar panel buyers don’t have to worry about billions of dollars in high rates in the meantime (a 250% rate has been suggested).

President Biden has also announced that he will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost domestic solar panel production through loans and grants. The DPA, which Biden used to increase production of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, allows the president to direct domestic manufacturers to prioritize orders from the federal government. With the DPA, the federal government will “increase domestic solar production capacity by directing the development of master supply agreements.” The government will also establish “super preferences” to apply domestic content standards for federally purchased solar systems, including using domestically manufactured solar components with the Buy American Act.

This federal tender has been pledged for up to 1 GW of domestically produced solar panels in the short term and up to 10 GW over the next ten years due to US government demand alone. The Biden administration also encourages local governments to build similar agreements to “increase the potential market impact to well over 100 GW over the next decade.”

Biden will also use the DPA to expand manufacturing of building insulation, heat pumps, clean fuels and network infrastructure.

“Thanks to today’s actions by the White House, the U.S. solar industry can finally get back to work by boosting economic growth, lowering electricity costs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). “We thank the President and his staff for the vital assistance he has provided to the country’s solar energy sector.”

“While the Commerce Department’s investigation will continue as required by law, and we remain confident that a review of the facts will result in a negative decision, the President’s action is a much-needed postponement of this investigation that the industry is crushing,” said Abigail. Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, in a statement. “During the two-year tariff suspension, the U.S. solar industry can be rapidly mobilized again, while the Defense Production Act helps U.S. solar production grow.”

Story updated at 10 a.m. ET with official White House statement

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