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By Edward Harner

In August of last year, Green Solar Technologies journeyed to Washington D.C. to testify in front of the United States International Trade Commission in favor of tariffs placed on foreign-made solar panels.

Read the full testimony transcript below or read at https://www.usitc.gov/press_room/documents/testimony/201_75_005.pdf
 

"Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to appear here today. I am Edward Harner, Chief Operating Officer of Green Solar Technologies, a leader in the U.S. solar installation industry.

Green Solar has been installing the highest quality, American-made solar panels for our highly-valued customers for many years. We are pioneers in our field and have cultivated long-standing relationships with a number of U.S. solar module producers to provide our customers with the best products at the most competitive prices. Although based in California, we sell or operate in 19 states and growing, and have worked on projects throughout the United States, from Los Angeles, California to Raleigh, North Carolina. Green Solar and its roughly 120 employees take pride in being the best in the business. In fact, earlier this year we were one of 36 companies named a "Platinum Installer" by SolarWorld for our superior installation quality, business operations and customer service.

At Green Solar, we believe in American-made solar energy products. Since opening our doors, Green Solar's preference has been to install U.S.-produced solar modules on our residential and commercial projects. Unfortunately, this choice is no longer ours if we want to stay competitive. Because of the rapid rise 1 in global cell and module imports, and their crushing impact on U.S. solar producers, we have had no choice but to supply increasing amounts of foreign made panels.

In the past five years, we have seen solar system prices artificially drop 50% in all U.S. markets. As low-priced imports continue to enter the United States at increasing volumes, it has become progressively harder to find markets not overrun by solar cell and module distributors and installers whose business models are based on foreign imports. All too often, these companies do not even identify the specific module manufacturer; instead, they wait to get the lowest possible price on the date of installation.

While these and other installers have business models that depend on the use of low-priced imports, others are gradually turning to imports out of necessity. For instance, Green Solar has a network of trusted installers that we work with to provide our customers with the best products and services possible. However, many of them are now resorting to imports to stay competitive.

As the Commission is aware from its prior investigations, solar cells and modules are overwhelmingly purchased on the basis of price. This means that if Sunrun and Solar City are offering solar modules from countries like China, Malaysia, and elsewhere at bargain basement prices, they will get the business almost every time. We compete with these companies every single day, and try to 2 respond to the constant and increasing price pressures. However, as import volumes are rising, and import prices are falling, it is becoming much more difficult to do so.

Modules produced by Trina, Hanwha, C-Sun, Yingli, and other foreign producers are being used on solar projects across the United States with increasing frequency. While it is undeniable that Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnam, and Malaysian exports to the U.S. market have skyrocketed in the past five years, they are not the only problem. Other countries are also contributing to the solar import crisis. As one example, we are seeing growing volumes of solar modules from Korea, which is not surprising given that these modules are being offered in the U.S. market for significantly less than their U.S.-produced counterparts. Put simply, absent much needed trade relief these import trends will only worsen.

On behalf of myself, my family, and Green Solar's employees, I would like to thank the Commission for its time. Without relief, I am concerned that foreign producers will complete their goal of eliminating U.S. competition, and we will be forced to abandon U.S. solar modules altogether to stay in business. We respectfully ask the Commission to help us prevent this from happening.

Thank you for your time and attention."

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Nov 16, 2018 By Edward Harner