U.S.-China Trade Dispute Could Stall Arizona’s Solar Progress

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) are concerned that jobs will be lost in Arizona due to SolarWorld’s anti-trade petition.

Arizona is the third-largest employer in solar-related fields in America with nearly 5,000 jobs across 980 solar establishments in the state, according to the National Solar Jobs Census for 2011 report released by The Solar Foundation. Nationally, the solar industry is expected to add about 37,000 jobs by 2013, with many anticipated to be created in Arizona. SolarWorld’s trade complaint could put these jobs in jeopardy.

“Arizona jobs are at stake in the brewing solar trade war between the U.S. and China. As with most trade wars and protectionism, we stand to lose much more than we could gain – in this case, jobs for Arizonans and Americans,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).

GPEC has worked tirelessly to attract solar-related businesses to expand or relocate to Arizona and create high quality jobs for Arizonans. The Greater Phoenix region is now home to leading global PV manufacturers such as Suntech and First Solar, as well as supply-chain leaders like Power-One, Rioglass, Maxwell Technologies, Gestamp Solar Steel and six others. The region also represents thousands of downstream industry jobs in sales, marketing, logistics, construction and engineering.Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also completed a successful trip to China in September 2011 to continue attracting foreign investment opportunities that would benefit Arizona workers and the state’s solar industry.

“The U.S. is a net exporter of solar products to China and the world,” continued Broome. “At the end of the day, free trade is good for the solar industry, it’s good for Arizona jobs, and it’s good for the U.S. economy. We encourage policymakers to reach a decent resolution that protects our U.S. interests without sacrificing the opportunities provided by a free trade alliance with China.”

In October 2010, Suntech opened a 117,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona. With more than 100 well-trained workers, the facility is now operating 24 hours per day and producing nearly 50MW of solar panels per year. Suntech was planning to grow the facility to 120 MW; however, the imposition of trade barriers would undermine the facility’s continued growth.

“Trade barriers would hurt the economics of our Arizona manufacturing operations,” said Polly Shaw, Director of External Relations for Suntech America, a member of CASE. “Global supply chains have been critical to driving down the cost of solar manufacturing, and Suntech depends heavily on companies and operations in countries around the world, including both the U.S. and China. The U.S. has been a major beneficiary of solar trade, as a net exporter of solar products to China by more than $250 million and the world by nearly $2 billion. In fact, Suntech has been a net consumer of solar products in the U.S. for almost a decade.”

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) was formed in response to an anti-trade action filed byGermany-based SolarWorld with the U.S. government that threatens the entire U.S. solar industry. CASE represents more than 100 leading U.S. solar companies that represent more than 10,000 jobs in the U.S. solar industry, or roughly 10 percent of the industry’s total workforce, and the coalition is quickly growing. The Coalition is committed to building a domestic solar industry, promoting innovation, and making solar an affordable option for all Americans.

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