NewEnergyNews: Labor Day Reading - Solar Tariff Debate: Rule of Law or Open Competition? Blame the Chinese—but at least they are supporting their solar industry.

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A UTILITY IN THE MAKING: THE MUNICIPALIZATION OF BOULDER, COLORADO
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT NATIONAL HIGH VOLTAGE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM?
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE STATE OF THE U.S. WIND INDUSTRY (AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR UTILITIES)
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HAS APS INVENTED A ROOFTOP SOLAR BUSINESS MODEL FOR UTILITIES?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE GRID NEEDS INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM OPERATORS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SHOULD UTILITIES VALUE SOLAR?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: IS PUERTO RICO THE NEW POSTER CHILD FOR THE UTILITY DEATH SPIRAL?
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Reindeer Stresses
  • Weekend Video: Pink Fracking
  • Weekend Video: Fighting Duke For Solar
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: ARE NATURAL GAS AND RENEWABLES THE FUTURE OF TEXAS' POWER GRID?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: COULD FERC PUT A PRICE ON CARBON?
  • --------------------------

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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Monday, September 03, 2012

    Labor Day Reading - Solar Tariff Debate: Rule of Law or Open Competition? Blame the Chinese—but at least they are supporting their solar industry.

    In place of new material, while NewEnergyNews takes Labor Day off, here is a piece written earlier this year for Greentech Media:

    Solar Tariff Debate: Rule of Law or Open Competition? Blame the Chinese—but at least they are supporting their solar industry.

    Herman K. Trabish, May 2, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    The Department of Commerce (DOC) recently ruled that China’s financial support to its solar manufacturers constitutes a violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. DOC imposed protective tariffs of 2 percent to 5 percent. A second decision, potentially imposing further and higher tariffs, is expected May 17.

    Tariffs enforce WTO rules and protect U.S. solar manufacturers, but could also drive up solar costs or touch off a U.S.-China trade war. Center for American Progress China energy and policy analyst Melanie Hart and Grape Solar founder Ocean Yuan debated the wisdom of tariffs at the GTM solar summit.

    “Three things are of growing concern,” Hart said. Fossil-fuel-backed U.S. political leaders are not supporting renewables, she said, while China “has a forward-looking five-year strategy” and is “dedicating a lot of money to growing solar, particularly manufacturing.”

    Second, she said, “China’s policy process is not transparent.” When accusations are leveled, “we start to assume that perhaps what we don’t see is also problematic. There is growing suspicion.”

    Third, she said, “China is reaching a point where everything it does matters to us [and] we can’t afford to feel we’re on the losing end of such a critical trade relationship.” But, Hart said, “we have a non-political arena for laying out evidence of whether a foreign government is engaging in illegal subsidization and allowing some non-political, calm head in the Department of Commerce to make that decision.”

    (Chart data from The Brattle Group)

    “I can only speak about my own experience,” Yuan said. Grape Solar “received a series of notices from the Port of Seattle and the Port of Portland two weeks ago, and they demanded a cash payment the next day. We immediately sent a check to our customs broker. Otherwise, they can confiscate property, including panels.”

    “Installers, importers, distributors, and developers,” Yuan said, will be affected by tariffs, and “nobody will benefit.” Many U.S. manufacturers and the entire consumer-oriented part of the solar sector benefit from low costs, he said, adding, “We should be competing with the traditional fossil fuel generators, not fighting amongst ourselves.”

    Hart agreed, noting that fossil fuel interests invested $16 million in Q1 2012 to oppose Obama's clean energy policies. But, she added, “If we allow local government policies such as these subsidies to determine who comes out on top in such a critical global energy as solar, it could reduce our ability to compete against fossil fuels in the long term.”

    “Our relationship is too important,” Hart continued. “We should be addressing these problems in a legal-judicial fashion, to make sure we not only have cheap solar panels today but a long stable renewable energy partnership that can keep us going for the next five to ten years and beyond.”

    For the past 30 years, Yuan replied, China has been encouraging government support for all manufacturing, not just solar, because, Yuan explained, when China opened up to the West and Deng Xiaoping visited the U.S., he asked what China’s new role should be. "‘You make things,’ he was told, ‘and we will buy them.’"

    “That,” Yuan said, “led to today’s China. Now all of a sudden, the U.S. says, ‘I have fed the beast and it has grown into a monster.’ The U.S. wants to punish China for doing what it was told to do,” Yuan added. “And the market between these two countries is only $6 billion.Solar panel imports are less than $2 billion.”

    Greentech Media Research Managing Director Shayle Kann posed to each debater “one of the more compelling arguments on either side.” To Yuan, he asked, from “the pro-tariff side,” whether the U.S., on the assumption that China is violating WTO rules, should pursue enforcement even if it has a negative short-term impact on U.S. solar panel makers. Shouldn’t the DOC “enforce the rules?”

    “Assuming China is breaking the rules is a wrong assumption,” Yuan said. In his view, "The DOC is essentially saying, ‘I make the rules. You are breaking my rules.’ How fair is that?”

    Also, he added, “if you are trying to make anything in the U.S. and there is no uniqueness of your product, and if you try to compete with low-cost countries,” he said, “it’s simple math. With no technological advantage, how can you compete? You cannot. Face it. Do something else.”

    On “the anti-tariff side,” Kann asked Hart, won’t the tariff mechanism simply hurt the industry by driving up costs? “The likelihood is most top-tier manufacturers will skirt the tariffs,” Kann said, by setting up in Taiwan or Mexico. “U.S. prices won’t be hugely different.”

    “The goal here isn’t to protect U.S. manufacturers from competition,” Hart said. “The goal is to raise the price of cheating,” and “to make local government officials think twice before rolling out policies that might be or might appear to be WTO-illegal.”

    A questioner pointed out that 74 percent of U.S. solar jobs come from the industry segment most impacted by tariff-induced higher panel prices. “Why would we put a China-U.S. trade war on the back of an industry trying to compete with fossil fuels?”

    “The best thing we can do to ensure innovation and the ability to compete with fossil fuels,” Hart replied, “is to make sure we have a level playing field across all manufacturers and we are developing not just cheap solar panels but better and more efficient panels.”

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