Business / Business Focus

Greater Phoenix protests US solar tariffs on China

( Updated: 2012-07-27 10:04

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) announced yesterday that it is filing a formal letter of protest to the US Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC) against the tariffs on Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic cells and modules. The proclamation was made in Beijing, China at a GPEC-hosted event with representatives from solar industry associations, companies and foreign-direct investment agencies. GPEC is the only economic development organization in the country to take an official position on the US ruling.

As the premier economic development group for the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area, GPEC works closely with companies on their expansion and relocation plans, including a concentrated approach to those making a foreign-direct investment in the United States. In recent years, it championed a renewable energy-specific incentive that has drawn numerous solar companies to Arizona, including China-based Suntech. Additionally, there are another dozen Chinese companies with investments totaling $400 million that have identified Greater Phoenix as a potential location for their solar projects. In Arizona, approximately 9,128 direct jobs are associated with renewable energy companies and utility-scale projects.

Recently, The Brattle Group estimated a solar tariff of 50 percent would result in job losses between 14,877 and 43,178 in 2014. With a 100 percent tariff in place, the loss of jobs is estimated to be between 16,917 to 49,589 jobs in 2014.

"With such a significant projected national job loss, and with Arizona ranked third in the nation for solar installation capacity, we have no doubt the tariff will not only cause solar companies to alter their business models, but also make future Chinese investment in Arizona more challenging," GPEC President & CEO Barry Broome said. "This impacts one of our most promising local industries – an industry that's thriving and that leaders in our state have worked diligently to foster."

To respond to media's question about the possibility to win the support from US Department of Commerce , Mr Barry Broome said, "we do not feel our efforts will be in vain – we are the number three market for solar in the United States and our organization was recently rated the number one economic development group in the country. We are proud to lead on this issue and hope it sparks the willingness of other US organizations like ours to come out against the tariffs as well. The more push back we provide on this issue the better. "

On the heels of filing a formal letter of protest, GPEC also plans to testify before the ITC at its official hearing of this investigation on October 3, 2012.

"Imposing tariffs creates a loss for everyone, including small cities like ours," City of Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord said. "It slows innovation and diminishes the effort we're all making to cultivate jobs."

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy made a similar proclamation last year, and GPEC joined CASE in their complaint. GPEC hopes this time it will provide the US Department of Commerce with a new and unique perspective, one that encompasses all the municipal governments and Mayors in the Greater Phoenix region.

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