April 21, 2022
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
RE: Auxin Solar Tariff Petition
Dear President Biden:
We write to express our serious concern regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) initiation of an anti-circumvention investigation in response to a petition filed by Auxin Solar. Commerce’s decision to launch this investigation is needlessly causing immediate and serious harm to the U.S. solar industry. We respectfully request that your Administration issue an appropriate, expedited preliminary determination, consistent with Commerce’s inherent legal authority.
This petition has already had implications in Arizona. Salt River Project (SRP) filed a force majeure letter regarding a solar project last week in a docket at the Arizona Corporation Commission seeking to add nearly a GW of new gas. Arizona Public Service (APS) raised the concern over cost uncertainty of solar in its most recent resource plan advisory council meeting in the context of its forthcoming all-source request for proposals (ASRFP). Now is not the time to make the clean energy transition more costly. We need to be doing all we can to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
We share your goal of increasing domestic solar manufacturing. Unfortunately, domestic solar panel production capacity is currently less than 20% of annual demand. It will take time and smart policy to expand domestic solar manufacturing, and we stand ready to work with you to address this issue.
The subject countries Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand are the source of more than 80% of solar panel imports into the United States and 54% of total U.S. panel supply. The ongoing investigation could subject these imports to tariffs ranging from 50% to 250%. Further, duty liability is typically applied retroactive to the date Commerce initiates an anti-circumvention investigation, which was April 1, 2022. As a practical matter, importers are not going to risk this level of duty exposure, and solar customers are unable to absorb these massive and unanticipated costs. As a result, solar panel shipments to the U.S. are increasingly being placed on hold and orders are being cancelled.
The results have been predictable. Solar companies are struggling to access the panels they need to finish ongoing projects and begin new ones. If this situation persists, we are going to lose more than 70,000 jobs in the U.S. solar industry, including 11,000 manufacturing jobs. The imposition of tariffs will also lead to an annual loss of 16 GW of solar deployment, devastating the U.S. solar industry and our nation’s ability to address climate change.
The anti-circumvention petition is based on the false notion that the production of solar cells is a minor or insignificant process. In fact, solar cell production is a sophisticated manufacturing operation and the most important step in the production of solar panels, as Commerce itself has determined on many occasions. An affirmative finding would thus improperly overturn more than a decade of established Commerce precedent.
Based on the foregoing, we respectfully request that your Administration account for the economic damage, negative policy impacts, and legal flaws in the Auxin petition and render an expedited preliminary determination. Tens of thousands of American jobs are depending on a just and expeditious result.
Autumn T. Johnson, JD, MBA
Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA)
Cc: Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
AriSEIA joined a letter with several solar companies asking the Arizona Corporation Commission to direct its Staff to issue a Proposed Order on APS' outstanding interconnection manual, so that the manual can be voted on as soon as the May Open Meeting. The APS manual was filed and has been awaiting review by the Commission for years. This follows a letter by AriSEIA asking for a vote on this matter last year. A status update on this matter is on the agenda for the April Open Meeting, which is this week.
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