The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) recently approved import tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules starting at 30 percent, with an annual exemption for the first 2.5 GW of imported solar cells. The additional cost comes out to between about $0.10/W and $0.12/W.

“Based on our preliminary analysis, we think this is going to be manageable, especially in Hawaii where our utility rates are already high,” said Bob Johnston, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Pacific Solar. “Payback time may increase modestly, possibly by a year or so.”

The tariff will be applied at 30 percent in the first year, 25 percent in the second year, 20 percent in the third year and 15 percent in the fourth year.

USTR made the recommendations to the President based on consultations with the interagency Trade Policy Committee (TPC) in response to findings by the independent, bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The determination was made after two companies (interestingly both foreign-owned), Suniva and SolarWorld, co-petitioned for relief from foreign competition. The issue has been investigated for over a year, with strong resistance coming from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other solar stakeholders. Both sides’ arguments centered on the loss of U.S. jobs.

According to a report by Solar News, the ITC’s recommended tariffs are much lower than the 50 percent tariff the co-petitioners sought and a bit lower than the 35 percent recommended by one ITC commissioner.