Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Tuesday, urging her to quash a federal investigation of Asian solar panel manufacturers who may be illegally sourcing parts from China to circumvent federal government anti-dumping regulations.
Auxin Solar, a California-based solar panel manufacturer, filed a complaint with the Commerce Department, claiming panels imported from four Asian countries were being built with Chinese parts and raw materials. The department opened an investigation into the complaint on March 28.
The investigation is not complete but could result in heavy tariffs being levied on countries using Chinese materials to circumvent U.S. sanctions.
“This investigation jeopardizes our shared interest in providing financial relief to residents in the transition to affordable clean energy,” wrote Polis, whose administration earlier unveiled a Greenhouse Gas Roadmap that calls for 100% renewable energy by 2040. “Many American jobs, which depend on those projects, are at risk if Commerce heads down its current procedural path and imposes a prohibitively high tariff on much-needed imported solar products.”
The governor added: “I strongly urge the Commerce Department to quickly conclude this investigation and not impose tariffs. Commerce should promote, not deter, growth in the American solar industry.”
In 2011, the Department of Commerce found that China, a communist country that has embraced state-sponsored capitalism, was exporting solar panels to the U.S. at prices below the cost of manufacturing them, which forced some American solar panel manufacturers into bankruptcy.
In response, the department imposed import tariffs of as much as 250% on Chinese panels.
The result was a drastic 85% drop in Chinese panel imports.
At the same time, exports rose more than 800% from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.
In 2021, the U.S. government investigated allegations that forced labor is being used by China in the production of raw materials and parts for panels, including polysilicon. China is the world’s leading producer of polysilicon.
In June, the Biden administration imposed sanctions aimed at preventing the import of polysilicon products from several Chinese manufacturers to combat the use of forced labor to produce solar panels destined for the U.S.
The issue of eliminating forced labor in China is a priority of the Biden administration.
“As President Biden made clear at the recent G7 summit, the United States will not tolerate modern-day slavery in our supply chains,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement in June.