Installers, integrators, distributors support fair trade, speak out against China's alleged dumping and illegal subsidies
Washington, D.C., May 9, 2012 – Membership in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) has surpassed 200 employers of about 17,000 U.S. workers – 85 percent in downstream businesses to sell and install solar systems, distribute products, and integrate, finance and design projects. Combined with about 20 manufacturing members, this industry-wide coalition stands behind domestic manufacturing, sustainable production and fair, legal solar-industry competition.
The industry support – detailed on the CASM website's member page – comes as CASM says the industry confronts an anti-competitive trade onslaught of illegally subsidized and dumped photovoltaic (PV) cells and panels from China's state-sponsored industry, which the U.S. government so far has found to benefit from at least 10 categories of illegal subsidy programs. CASM formed to advance anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade cases against China's government and industry.
"A group of Chinese manufacturers and importers makes demonstrably false claims about the portion of the industry, particularly installation workers, that it represents," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest U.S. manufacturer and leader of CASM. "These claims are simply desperate attempts to detract attention from China's anti-competitive trade practices.
"Fully 82 percent of Americans back domestic solar manufacturing. Second, CASM represents a clear majority of American solar manufacturing. Third, the 17,000 supporters of CASM comprise nearly one in five of the industry's estimated 100,000 employees, and many of them work in downstream fields, mainly installation."
CASM members nationwide strongly support the need to hold the Chinese government and its state-underwritten industry accountable to world and U.S. trade laws. Five examples:
United Electric Supply, Delaware, 300 jobs: "First and foremost we support U.S. jobs. Secondly, we support fair trade and want a level playing field so high-quality U.S. products can compete in the U.S. marketplace."
Control Alt Energy, Pennsylvania, five jobs: "It isn't enough to have installation jobs with inferior foreign products. We need to manufacture quality materials that our company installs here, keeping good-paying manufacturing jobs in America!"
Eland Electric Corp., Wisconsin, 30 jobs: "I am in support of this coalition for the simple fact that America needs to become a sustainable country and not dependent on other countries. We have done enough damage to our economy and don't need the help of other countries demeaning our way of life and our American dollar. It is so easy for every other country to make a lot of money in the American market, yet so hard for us AMERICANS to make a decent and respectable living in our own economy. If other countries want to do business with us, that is fine, so long as it is fair for everyone involved, first and foremost (the) U.S.!"
Eco Solar Solutions, Maryland, five jobs: "I feel strongly that it is important for the U.S. economy to closely monitor what we import as far as PV cells and panels. We must keep as much as possible within the U.S. to secure jobs in this ever-growing industry. All the federal and state incentives will go to waste if we just give the money to Chinese manufacturers who aren't playing by the rules."
Superior Solar Systems LLC, Florida, 25 jobs: "Solar manufacturing in the U.S. needs support. Heavily subsidized Chinese imports are killing the American solar manufacturing industry. This is a growing Industry that has the ability to put a lot of out-of-work Americans to work and to put America in the forefront of a very lucrative and important energy source going forward."
Many CASM members recognize that China's sponsorship of its industry export drive threatens the U.S. domestic industry, even though U.S. government energy researchers have determined that China's industry faces a 5 percent cost disadvantage in producing and delivering solar products into the U.S. market, compared with U.S. manufacturers. In all, at least 12 domestic manufacturers have shut down plants, declared bankruptcy or staged significant layoffs since 2010.
In the first major ruling in the trade cases, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a unanimous preliminary ruling that Chinese trade practices were injuring the domestic manufacturing industry. In its next major ruling, the Department of Commerce will announce on May 17 the extent to which Chinese solar industry has dumped solar cells and panels on the U.S. market at artificially low prices to drive out U.S. competition and, if so, by what percentage margins. Those margins would be assessed as duties on imports of Chinese products to offset illegal trade practices.
The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, founded by seven companies that manufacture solar cells and panels in the United States, has more than 200 employers of nearly 17,000 workers who have registered their support for CASM's case. The founding manufacturers have plants in nearly every region in the United States, including the Northwest and California, the Southwest, Midwest, Northeast and South and support several thousand U.S. manufacturing jobs. For details about CASM, go to www.americansolarmanufacturing.com; email media questions to firstname.lastname@example.org; other questions or comments may be emailed to email@example.com.