Solar industry awaits China trade decision

Solar industry experts expect tariffs will be imposed on Chinese-made solar-power panels by the end of March as a result of a SolarWorld-led complaint about unfair competition from cheap Chinese imports.

But it’s uncertain how high they the tariffs will be and what will happen to the U.S. solar industry after that.

And that uncertainty is a big headache for people such as Scott Franklin, president and CEO of Boulder’s Clean Energy Solutions Inc. Franklin’s company is the parent of both Lumos LLC, a solar equipment design and development company, and Lighthouse Solar, which installs solar-power systems for residential and commercial customers.

The two companies have sold and installed Chinese-made solar panels for about five years and employ nearly 100 people at 12 locations across the United States, Franklin said.

“The biggest thing for us is the uncertainty. That’s the hardest to manage,” Franklin said. “My hunch is that there will be some tariff imposed. The question is how much.”

Franklin said it’s difficult to bid on projects without knowing how high the tariffs, also called duties, might be.

“How can you buy something if you don’t know what the price will be?” he said.

The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to announce March 5 the preliminary results of its investigation into a complaint that the Chinese government’s subsidies of its solar-panel manufacturers have unfairly hurt U.S. manufacturers.

Read more in the Denver Business Journal.

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