A coalition of green energy companies is creating a spat of advertisements associating two solar companies seeking tariffs against China with a bankrupt Obama-era solar panel producer.
More than 10 small solar manufacturers are seeking to paint Suniva and SolarWorld, both of which are pushing policies meant to protect the solar industry, as the second-coming of Solyndra, a company that received more than half-a-billion-dollar in subsidies only to fold months later. The backers of the coalition told reporters Friday that they “believe we have the resources to convey our message to the administration.”
The new coalition, which includes companies such as RBI Solar, Nextracker, GameChange Solar, is separate from one formed in July opposing tariffs. Larger companies and groups such as Tesla and the Energy Trade Action Coalition noted earlier this year that they will fight against protectionist policies.
Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), among other free market groups, have also joined those opposing the tariffs, but CEI and others are worried Suniva’s push could find pay dirt among the Trump administration, which has expressed sympathy for tariffs and other protectionist ideas.
“For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, ‘Tariffs. I want tariffs.’ And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can’t put a tariff on IP,” President Donald Trump reportedly told his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, earlier this month. The president was referring to his belief that cheap Chinese manufactured goods are ripping off U.S. industry.
Suniva, for its part, claimed in April that competition from Chinese-made solar panels all but forced the company into bankruptcy, despite receiving more than $20 million in support from federal and state taxpayers. The company filed a request for tariffs with the International Trade Commission (ITC) a week after seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Tesla might have a dog in the hunt. The electric vehicle maker announced in June plans to build a large electric vehicle manufacturing plant in China, according to media reports at the time. The facility could help Tesla reduce prices through saving on a combination of costs from tariffs and shipping.
China requires all foreign auto manufacturers to partner with a Chinese-based company to build on Chinese soil, with the foreign company owning no more than 50 percent of the business.
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