Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tariffs against Chinese Panels

This tariff thing has been playing out all year.   The "process" is kept quite secretive.   Just when you think that you know something, they pull a new rabbit out of the hat, and the issue drags on.

What is the issue?

The Chinese has been instrumental in driving down the cost of PV panels, which used to be a HUGE part of the project cost, and is now just a large part of the project cost.  

They cheated and the government gave them money to sell below cost.   That did bankrupt some US companies.    Think Hoku solar, bankrupted, and then taken over by the Chinese.    Think Solyndra.    Of course there is more to the story, but the incredible dropping pricing is part of it, a big part of it.  

Canadian solar panels are really Chinese panels.
In fact if the product literature doesn't clearly point out the factory and wafer production facility in the US, you can pretty much rest your hat that the product is Chinese.

The importer of record will have to pay the tariff.    Even 3 months retroactive, maybe more, they make these rules up on the fly.   Could you be the importer of record?   How would you know that you are not?

The tariff rate was decided in Spring to be 31% or more.

When does the tariff go into effect, it was supposed to be early October, now they are talking next week, or Nov 7.

What does it mean to you?

When prices go up, they aren't announced in advance, they go up overnight.    Our proposals state that if the prices go up, our offer is void at our discretion.    

There are a ton of reasons to not drag your feet on PV solar.

  1. The tariffs
  2. Utilities hitting a "limit" and stopping further PV.    Utilities don't like PV, it is direct competition to their main product.   In Kauai they hit the limit, no household can do PV anymore, how sad.
  3. Solar tax credits could be eliminated at any time, legislators are continously introducing bills to eliminate solar tax credits.    They want to increase tax revenue by killing the only growth industry in the US.   Does it make sense?  No.   Is it possible for a bankrupted tax system, sure, they can eliminate the tax credit.   
  4. Every month that goes by, is a month that you didn't make money on your roof.    Truly a loss, a loss that cannot be recaptured.
  5. Prices naturally go up towards the end of the year as the procrastinators jump in and sign up at the last minute.

Solar has accounted for 20% of the construction jobs in Hawaii last year.   Solar increased 109% year over year in 2011 across the US.   

The article below shows the divisiveness within the industry.   They make the absurd claim that prices haven't gone up, therefore the tariffs amount to "nada".   Well the tariffs have not been put into effect, so of course prices have not gone up.

When prices do go up, they will go up overnight.
The year-long trade case has divided U.S. solar companies — from manufactures to installers and project developers — over whether imposing tariffs on Chinese manufacturers will reverse a sorry streak of factory closures and bankruptcies. The case is now before the U.S. International Trade Commission, which held a final hearing on the case yesterday and plans to issue a decision by Nov. 7. The U.S. Department of Commerce is due to issue its final decision next Wednesday.

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