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The Senate voted this week to reinstate solar panel tariffs of up to 254% in a blow to the Biden administration, its energy transition plans, and the U.S. solar industry.
With 56 votes in favor and 41 against, the tariff return bill will now head to President Biden, who has vowed to veto it. Senate Republicans are preparing for a continued fight. To win it, they would need a majority of two-thirds in the upper chamber.
The solar tariff saga dates back to February last year after Auxin Solar, a California-based solar-panel manufacturer, requested the Commerce Department to investigate if Chinese solar companies were assembling their products in four other Asian countries before shipping them to America in a bid to evade U.S. tariffs on Chinese panels.
In June, President Biden introduced a two-year moratorium on the tariffs for panels shipped from Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. These four countries account for the majority of solar panels and equipment that the U.S. imports.
This happened after the Department of Commerce (DOC) opened an investigation into whether U.S. imports of panels completed in those four Southeast Asian countries—using parts and components from China—are circumventing the antidumping duty and countervailing duty orders on solar cells and modules from China.
Meanwhile, the solar energy industry has been complaining that the tariffs are hurting the business, and a lot of projects would be either delayed or outright canceled because of higher prices for local panels and limited availability.
“The United States currently lacks the capacity to produce solar panels and cells in adequate volumes to meet domestic demand. The two-year duty moratorium allows planned solar installations to move forward while we scale domestic manufacturing in the near-term,” said the president and chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Abigail Ross Hopper, in comments on a previous vote for the tariffs in Congress.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.