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GPEC makes case against solar tariffs

In support of the prospering solar industry in the Greater Phoenix metro area, City of Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord testified against proposed tariffs on Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic cells and modules at a hearing of the International Trade Commission in Washington. The City of Goodyear is a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and home to the only U.S. manufacturing hub for China-based Suntech, the world’s largest solar manufacturer. Mayor Lord is the only elected official testifying at the hearing.

“Greater Phoenix was one of the hardest hit regions in the nation during the economic downturn, but thanks to the hard work of leaders in our community, we’ve created an industry cluster for renewable companies to create a more diverse and sustainable employer base,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the region’s premier economic development organization. “Now, we’re home to more than 260 companies within the solar supply chain, 27 manufacturing facilities and more than 9,000 jobs associated with renewable energy companies and utility-scale projects – a significant number when considering that parts of our state are at more than 20 percent unemployment.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if implemented, these tariffs would have a detrimental effect not only on our existing solar and renewable energy industry but also in our ability to attract further investments in this sector from around the world,” Broome added. “It would send a signal that the U.S. is closed for business when it comes to this flourishing global industry.”

GPEC works closely with companies on their expansion and relocation plans, including a concentrated approach to those making a foreign-direct investment in the United States. In recent years, it championed a renewable energy-specific incentive that has drawn numerous solar companies to Arizona, including Suntech. Additionally, there are another dozen Chinese companies with investments totaling $400 million that have identified the Greater Phoenix region as a potential location for their projects.

GPEC recently filed a formal letter of protest to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission against the tariffs. To view the letters, please visit www.gpec.org/tariff .

“Many of Goodyear’s economic development efforts center on solar or foreign-direct investment. As a small city located in a Foreign Trade Zone, we want more Suntechs – not less,” Mayor Lord said in her testimony. “In Goodyear, a town of just 70,000, Suntech employs more than 100 well-trained professionals and, if market demand continues, has plans to more than double that number.

“I’m worried that the imposition of punitive duties will put both current and future jobs at risk, in addition to those at related companies within the supply chain and the residual effects they could have on the people, schools and welfare of my community,” she added.

The Brattle Group recently reported that a 100 percent tariff would result in estimated job losses between 17,000 and 50,000 in 2014. Clearly, if implemented these tariffs would be detrimental not only to Arizona’s solar industry but also the entire industry nationwide and the U.S. economy as a whole, in addition to substantial job losses.