(May 6, 2022) Denver, Colorado – On March 28th, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a circumvention inquiry into solar panels made in four Southeast Asian countries. 

At the time, the solar industry warned that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) tariff investigation would have far-reaching impacts. Today, the Colorado Solar and Storage Association submitted a Notice of Supply Disruption to warn the Public Utility Commission and all interested parties of the severe supply chain disruptions that jeopardize the state’s clean energy goals and solar deployments for utilities and homeowners.

The DOC investigation was officially initiated on April 1, 2022, in order to investigate whether solar imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are circumventing antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese-made crystalline silicon cells. If imposed, tariffs would increase the cost of solar products from these countries between 50 to 250%. The DOC could also potentially apply the tariffs retroactively as far back as November 4, 2021.

The investigation creates severe uncertainty for solar module imports across all sectors of the industry, with deep impacts. Last year around 85% of the US’s crystalline silicon imports came from the four targeted countries, so the DOC investigation has destabilized the entire solar industry. Affected businesses face solar project delays, cancellations, or a need to renegotiate financing agreements. At least 70% of Colorado solar companies also report their workforce is at risk of layoffs or furloughs.

Colorado’s solar industry is a critical partner to help the state reach its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals, and mass project cancellations and workforce layoffs would derail Colorado’s clean energy goals.

“Our renewable-energy future is at the brink,” said Jason Sharpe, CEO of Namaste Solar in a news release from Senator Michael Bennet’s office. “The current lack of a solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) extension and the specter of retroactive tariffs is threatening to push our industry over the edge.”

“With hundreds of megawatts of new solar projects currently being developed in Colorado, and gigawatts soon to be bid for, this circumvention inquiry has injected massive uncertainty into the market,” said Mike Kruger, President & CEO, Colorado Solar and Storage Association, “We are hoping today’s Notice will inform all participants in Colorado’s electric power sector that they will need to be flexible with current and future projects.”

This investigation is outside the control of developers in Colorado, and the cost uncertainty is beyond any company’s reasonable ability to absorb. Therefore, COSSA and SEIA submitted their Notice to the Commission to let all interested parties know of the severe supply chain disruption that may affect solar project timelines and contracts.

The full Notice of Supply Disruption can be accessed below:

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