A solar panel manufacturing facility run by major provider JinkoSolar is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to local news outlets.
Agents from Homeland Security, the FBI, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol entered the Jacksonville, Fla. Facility after executing a search warrant. Employees were sent home, and agents from the three agencies were seen on-scene at the facility.
“That’s part of an ongoing federal investigation,” said Homeland Security spokesman Mike Meares.
The 400 MW, 283,652 square-foot production facility reached operations in 2018, employing 270 people. The site expected to nearly double its capacity following a recently announced $52 million private investment and a $2.3 million economic development grant from the city of Jacksonville.
JinkoSolar offered this statement to pv magazine:
“JinkoSolar is committed to operating in accordance with the highest ethical standards and adhering to the laws and regulations of the countries where it operates, including the United States. Jinko, through external counsel, is engaging constructively with relevant agencies to understand the nature of the inquiry, and the company’s business operations are running normally, including in Jacksonville.”
As a solar component supplier based in China, JinkoSolar and its competitors have faced pressure from U.S. enforcement of trade law. Goods shipped from the Xinjiang province in China are subject to enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which requires documentation to show the components have no connection to forced labor. Other major suppliers, including Longi, Trina Solar, and Canadian solar have had components detained under UFLPA.
Suppliers are also dealing with navigating the antidumping and countervailing (AD/CVD) investigation, which was launched as solar suppliers from China were alleged of dodging tariffs by circumventing them through Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia. JinkoSolar’s operations in Malaysia were found to not be in violation of AD/CVD laws.
Goods found in violation of antidumping laws can be retroactively assessed with 50% to 250% tariffs. This looming threat of tariffs has been damaging to the U.S. solar component supply chain over the last year, slowing project installations.
As a result, President Joe Biden placed a two-year pause on tariffs related to the AD/CVD case, and now the move is facing pressure. The U.S. Senate voted to lift the moratorium, reinstating tariffs, though President Biden has expressed he will veto the resolution. If the Senate can achieve a two-thirds majority, it can override Biden’s veto.
A recent report by Solarbe ranked JinkoSolar as the largest solar panel supplier in the world. The company delivered 13 GW of panels in Q1 2023, 50% of which were the N-type Tiger Neo panel. The quarter represented a growth of 72.7% over the previous year’s Q1.
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