Installers react with disappointment to USITC decision

Installer reaction to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) unanimous decision to find that Suniva and SolarWorld had suffered significant enough injury to move the trade case into the penalty phase was swift.

And no matter what the segment, the decision did not receive rave reviews.

“You can’t outsource installing solar panels on a roof or when building a utility-scale solar power plant, and there are other solar component manufacturing jobs that will be made vulnerable by this decision,” said TJ Kanczuzewski, president and CEO of Indiana-based Inovateus Solar. Inovateus was the first to identify “the Suniva effect” to pv magazine.

“To minimize these job losses and prevent a significant spike in solar installation costs, we hope that any financial penalties recommended by the ITC will be small, if any, and that the President will not implement any tariffs that would stifle this American industrial success story,” Kanczuzewski said.

Will Anderson,CEO and founder of Complete Solar, a California residential solar company, believes the decision could undo all the progress the solar industry has made toward becoming a mainstream energy source. “This decision takes a very narrow view of the industry: it looks at a thin slice of the value chain and could put at risk downstream companies like Complete Solar that are creating real value for American consumers, American businesses, and American employees.”

Russ Aney, CEO of Massachusetts-based Avid Solar, worries that any eventual penalties levied on modules could affect commercial projects in Massachusetts, particularly those about to be bid under the state’s new incentive program. He believes most installers will move toward thin-film modules and will be scrambling to call domestic manufacturers. But he ultimately believes any penalties imposed will have little or no effect on the Chinese manufacturers.

“These trade penalties will be, at best, a mildly corrective action that does nothing to effectively advance an industrial strategy to be a leader in clean energy,” Aney said. “It is a band-aid covering a failure of vision and leadership [of U.S. manufacturers and the U.S. government].”