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US solar industry could see massive job losses if Suniva wins trade protection petition

EBR Staff Writer Published 16 June 2017

As many as 88,000 jobs have been estimated to be lost in the US if Suniva gets trade protections, warns the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The estimated number of jobs as per the national trade association for the solar industry, SEIA makes up one-third of the present solar workforce in the country.

California is likely to be the most hit states with an estimated job losses of 15,800. About 7,000 jobs are expected to be lost in South Carolina while Texas could see 6,300 jobs lost as per the SEIA preliminary estimates, should Suniva have its way.

The trade association has figured out that solar manufacturing jobs in the country would decline if the US International Trade Commission (ITC) rules in favor of Suniva.

Earlier, the Georgia-based Suniva requested the US ITC to put a tariff on imported solar cells and fix a price floor for almost all imported solar panels. The manufacturer of crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and high-power solar modules made the requests while admitting that it was struggling to compete with foreign manufacturers.

Suniva, which is majority owned by a Chinese company had filed the petition with the US ITC following its bankruptcy declaration in late April.

SEIA has also contradicted the claims made by Suniva that the manufacturer’s petition was aimed at protecting domestic manufacturing.

SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said: “These new estimates show the potential damage to the solar industry as a result of this petition.

“Rather than help the industry, the action would kill many thousands of American jobs and put a stop to billions of dollars in private investment.

"Our estimates show that even in the states where Suniva and its lone supporter, SolarWorld, have operations, if the petition succeeds, there would be many times more jobs lost than expected gains for two struggling companies.”

The US ITC which heard the case in late May is likely to announce its decision in September.

Image: SEIA warns of huge job cuts in solar industry if US ITC agrees with Suniva’s petition. Photo: courtesy of start08/Freedigitalphotos.net.