Due to the rising price of many traditional fuels and a need for new employment opportunities, many U.S. economic experts are beginning to look to renewable energy as a solution to both concerns. However, since policymakers have been slow to address these growing concerns, lobbying groups such as the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) have joined the fight.
On December 1, CASE announced that 12 new companies joined its ranks. The move comes before a vote at the International Trade Commission (ITC), which will settle an anti-trade action filed by SolarWorld and several other solar panel manufacturers. Experts say the decision could have a big influence on the U.S. industry as a whole.
The complaint was originally filed on October 19, and it alleges that due to the emergence of Chinese solar panel makers and subsidies from the Chinese government, American businesses are now unable to compete in the solar panel market. As a result, the group is looking for the ITC and the U.S. Department of Commerce to intercede. Still, others argue that this may not be the best outcome.
"The rapid price reduction of solar panels in the last year has opened up new markets in the U.S. where solar was not previously cost competitive with grid power," Joe Bono, CEO of Solar Universe, a CASE member representing about 200 employees, said in the release. "This is an opportunity for more jobs and lower utility bills, a trend America needs."
Jigar Shah, one of the co-founders of case, agrees, saying that SolarWorld is attempting to level the playing field to increase its ability to compete, which may not be the best thing for the industry as a whole. By inflating prices, the industry may not be able to learn to adapt to the needs of the global market or help in the fight against climate change.