Biden Administration officials are voicing increasing frustration about a recently launched Commerce Department probe into imported solar panels, according to the Washington Postwhich the solar industry says has disrupted hundreds of solar installation projects across the country and threatens to derail the White House’s clean energy goals.
The Commerce Department launched an investigation on April 1 into panel makers in four southeast Asian countries, after a small California-based panel maker, Auxin Solar, petitioned the department to investigate whether the companies were fronts for Chinese manufacturers seeking to avoid US tariffs by shipping from other nations.
If it’s discovered that’s the case, there could be retroactive penalties charged for the import of the panels.
The specter of penalties has significantly impacted solar development across the US, with 80% of American solar companies saying the probe has threatened at least half of projects planned for this year, according to the Postciting an industry survey.
The Biden Administration’s goal of halving the price of solar power by 2030, making it the cheapest energy source, is also in jeopardy.
Officials like Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and White House climate envoy John Kerry are among those who have internally expressed qualms about the investigation, according to the Postwhile industry leaders have publicly bemoaned the investigation on numerous occasions.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has pushed back at White House and industry pressure, saying she can’t intervene since the probe is designed to be an independent investigation that could take up to one year.