WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden waived
tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian nations for
two years and invoked the Defense Production Act to spur solar
panel manufacturing at home, the White House said on Monday,
confirming a Reuters report.
The tariff exemption applies to panels from Cambodia,
Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and will serve as a "bridge"
while U.S. manufacturing ramps up, the White House said.
Shares in U.S. solar companies including SunPower Corp
, Enphase Energy Inc and Sunrun Inc
climbed after Reuters earlier reported that Biden would issue a
proclamation that ensured panels accounting for some 80 percent
of U.S. imports would not face tariffs, which could have been
levied retroactively as part of a Commerce Department probe.
The move comes in response to concerns about a freezing of
solar projects nationwide and the resulting impact on the
administration's plans to fight climate change. The
investigation, announced in March, is considering whether solar
panel imports from the four countries were circumventing tariffs
on goods made in China.
The probe had prompted the largest solar trade group to cut
its installation forecasts for this year and next by 46% as
developers including NextEra Energy Inc, Southern Co
warned of major project delays.
The White House said the Defense Production Act would also
be used to expand manufacturing of building insulation, heat
pumps, transformers, and equipment for "clean
electricity-generated fuels" such as electrolyzers and fuel
"With a stronger clean energy arsenal, the United States can
be an even stronger partner to our allies, especially in the
face of (Russian President Vladimir) Putins war in Ukraine,"
the White House said in a statement.
Manufacturing makes up a small portion of the U.S. solar
industry, with most of the jobs concentrated in project
development, installation and construction. Proposed legislation
that would encourage domestic solar manufacturing is currently
stalled in Congress.
Heather Zichal, chief executive of the American Clean Power
Association, said Biden's announcement would "rejuvenate the
construction and domestic manufacturing of solar power by
restoring predictability and business certainty."
The Commerce Department investigation - kicked off in
response to a complaint from a small solar panel provider, Auxin
- essentially halted the flow of solar panels that make up more
than half of U.S. supplies and 80 percent of imports.
Auxin's CEO, Mamun Rashid, criticized the White House move
as having "opened the door wide for Chinese-funded special
interests to defeat the fair application of U.S. trade law."
Top U.S. panel manufacturer First Solar said the
administration's move "undermines American solar manufacturing."
Its shares were down more than 2% in mid-day trade on the
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Nichola
Groom; editing by John Stonestreet and Tomasz Janowski)