The U.S. International Trade
Commission has found injury to the domestic
crystalline silicon solar cell industry based on a
petition bought by bankrupt manufacturers Suniva and
The unanimous 4-0 vote in favor of the petitioners in the
Section 201 case was held at ITC headquarters in Washington,
D.C., soon after 11 am ET on Friday. A remedy hearing is
slated for Oct. 3 and the deadline for relief recommendations
is Nov. 13. The deadline for recommendations
by President Donald Trump is
Jan. 12 (
"The fact that the Suniva 201 trade case is now moving to
the remedy phase has the potential to slow or stop solar
projects in the works," write John
Hofstette and Greg Lavigne,
attorneys at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer &
Feld in Washington D.C., in an Industry
The cost of solar panels has already soared this year as
solar project developers have stockpiled modules, with
manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand.
"If it goes through, it'll kill a ton of deals," a financial
adviser focusing on solar projects
told PFR last month, adding: "Even if it's a
small increase [in the price of panels], there are a lot of
marginal deals that would just not have value."
"A lot of people acquired solar projects but didn't lock in
their panel prices, with the hope of these projects becoming
economic," said a project finance banker.
The deadline to submit briefs for the remedy hearing on Oct.
3 is Wednesday Sept. 27. The Solar Energy Industries
Association plans to file a brief, the organization's
president and ceo Abigail Ross
Hopper told reporters on Friday afternoon, while
declining to comment on what it would contain.
Ross Hopper noted that there are limited opportunities to
appeal an ITC decision in court, making an appeal via judicial
"The ITC’s decision is disappointing for nearly
9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they
employ. Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures
on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to
gain a bailout for their bad investments," she wrote in a
statement issued moments after the vote.
Should the president move to implement the
ITC’s recommendations, a foreign nation could
appeal potential tariffs at the World Trade
The ruling could lead to the loss of 88,000 U.S. jobs and
the deferral of 47 GW of solar installations in the next five
years. according to a Sept. 21 research note authored
by Moody’s Investors
Service analysts Lesley
Ritter, Tracy Rice, Swami
Venkataraman and Jim Hempstead.
Trump could find implementation of the recommendations
appealing, write the analysts, who note that a majority of U.S.
panel imports are sources from China and Southeast Asia.
"[A]dopting a protectionist policy in support of the U.S.
solar manufacturing industry makes for an attractive political
decision that may be hard to pass on," they write.
Delayed investment in solar could lengthen the life of coal
plants that would otherwise be retired, a desirable outcome for
a president who has been an outspoken advocate for the
industry, according to the Moody's analysts.
Ross Hopper disagrees, however, saying on Friday's call:
"The president wants to create jobs, the president wants to
"The president wants increased energy security and economic
prosperity and that is the story of the solar industry and so I
think that is entirely resonant with his rhetoric and his
concerns," she added.
Major investments in solar, including NextEra
Energy’s plans to build up to 5.4 GW of
solar generation through 2020 and Duke
Energy’s planned procurement of 2.5 GW of
solar generation over the next five years, are likely be put on
ice as a result of future tariffs, according to the
Securitizations of solar assets could also stall as a result
of a slowdown in the origination of rooftop solar loans, leases
and power purchase agreements, write the Moody's analysts, who
add, however, that there is a silver lining for existing solar
"[O]bligors under existing solar financing contracts would
have a marginally stronger incentive to continue making
payments, because the economic savings from their solar
contracts would be higher than the then-current market savings
level in their geographical region as a result of higher system
costs," they write.