Obama admin slaps tariff on solar panels from China… because of subsidies

posted at 9:15 am on March 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Yes, you read that correctly. Three years after committing tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to green-energy firms, including massive amounts of subsidies to solar-panel firms like Solyndra, the Obama administration proclaims themselves shocked, shocked! that China subsidizes the production of solar panels in their own country:

The U.S. Commerce Department announced tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels on Tuesday that it said had benefited from unfair subsidies by Beijing.

The preliminary ruling came in response to a complaint from SolarWorld Industries America, a U.S. manufacturer that is a subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld. The tariffs were lower than many analysts had predicted, however, boosting shares of Chinese solar-panel makers in Tuesday’s trading….

“Today’s announcement affirms what U.S. manufacturers have long known: Chinese manufacturers have received unfair and [World Trade Organization]-illegal subsidies,” Steve Ostrenga, CEO of Wisconsin’s Helios Solar Works, said in a statement.

But many others say the complaint is counter-productive. Jigar Shah, president of the industry group Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, said in a statement that tariffs on Chinese panels would slow the growth of solar and cost the industry jobs in the U.S., for example in installation.

Shah, as CNN notes in the report, has since changed his position a little in support of the lower-than-expected tariffs, but the complaint is still wildly hypocritical.  The US government has spent billions of dollars on solar subsidies over the last several decades, and at least a few billion out of Obama’s Porkulus bill over the last three years.  Solyndra sank over a half-billion dollars in solar subsidies in its bankruptcy alone.

Actually, that might be the reason for the Obama administration’s action with these tariffs — as political cover for the collapse of Solyndra.  When Solyndra applied for those subsidies through the Loan Guarantee Program, questions were raised about Solyndra’s ability to compete against Chinese competition in the market; the DoE ignored those concerns, and we ended up taking a $535 million bath.  Obama will now argue that the bankruptcy got caused by unfair competition, even though (a) Obama used subsidies in exactly the same manner he accuses China of doing and for the same purpose, and (b) that still doesn’t change the fact that the DoE knew that Solyndra couldn’t compete in the marketplace even with the subsidies and tossed over a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money down the drain anyway.

Steve McGough at Radio Vice Online wonders if the White House choked on their words:

The federal government has a website listing tax credits, rebates and savings for all types of equipment including stuff like solar water heaters, solar space heating and solar pool water heating just to name a few.

There is a federal tax credit in place that will cover 30 percent of the cost of a solar energy system, up to $500 per .5 KW of power capacity. The credit expires Dec. 31, 2016 … so you have some time. Is the Obama administration really going to claim they have not been subsidizing this industry?

What the Obama administration did here is increase the cost of solar panels for consumers, making an already difficult return-on-investment decision even more hard to justify. Congratulations.

For another example of U.S. government subsidies for the U.S. solar energy industry, follow President Obama today to Nevada, where he’ll be visiting a solar farm that has five full-time employees, and received “$42 million in federal-government tax credits and $12 million in tax-rebate commitments from the state of Nevada.”

Ah, yes — that would be Sempra:

 President Obama will tout investments in “renewable” energy Wednesday at the local Copper Mountain Solar 1 plant, although the plant has only five full-time employees.

The plant, owned by San Diego-based energy company Sempra, was built in late 2010 at a cost of $141 million. Funding included $42 million in federal-government tax credits and $12 million in tax-rebate commitments from the state of Nevada.

Construction of the plant involved over 300 part-time jobs, but currently only five full-time employees operate the plant, a Sempra spokeswoman confirmed. That comes out to $10.8 million in tax-dollar subsidies per employee.

And we’re complaining about China’s subsidies?  That calls for a Captain Louis Renault award, which is most propitious timing, as movie theaters across the country will show Casablanca tonight for a one-time-only event:

 


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Do as I say, dammit, not as I do.

DuctTapeMyBrain on March 21, 2012 at 9:16 AM

So what Obama’s saying is that his administration sucks at both communism and capitalism. Great.

Weight of Glory on March 21, 2012 at 9:21 AM

“Today’s announcement affirms what U.S. manufacturers have long known: Chinese manufacturers have received unfair and [World Trade Organization]-illegal subsidies,” Steve Ostrenga, CEO of Wisconsin’s Helios Solar Works, said in a statement.

And, we want in, too, dammit!!!

Fallon on March 21, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I always give the democrats credit for just forging ahead with their agenda. They never play defense (because they don’t have to with our side cowering in fear).

SouthernGent on March 21, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Democrats speak another language.

“Investments” to me, would be a positive thing that would grow.

“Investments” to a Chicago hack, means a kickback to a political supporter.

NoDonkey on March 21, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Ya know…it’s almost as if PBHO and his crew are retards who don’t have the first clue about the basics of business, as if he were a former community organizer or something odd like that.

Bishop on March 21, 2012 at 9:24 AM

In other news, the Obama Administration has imposed tariffs on the importation of Fisker Karmas from Finland, because their construction was government-subsidized.

/sarc

Steve Z on March 21, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Now would be a great time to fully implement the Smoot-Hussein Act of 2012.

MNHawk on March 21, 2012 at 9:27 AM

“This will raise the cost of production for leading Chinese brands and it will raise the price for U.S. consumers,” he said.

Why does the Obama administration hate solar energy?

visions on March 21, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Personally, I think this is an excellent idea: if we make solar panels more expensive then maybe we can begin to ween ourselves off of alternative energ…

Wait, what?

pain train on March 21, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Obama’s “Green Bundlers” sure have this country by the short hairs.

8 months out from the November election, and Obama gives his Green Bundlers a Big Wet Kiss….I wonder if he sang….I am so in love with you lol!

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Becoming increasingly clear that this industry would shrink dramatically without the government propping it up; the government should stop subsidizing this industry (both directly and indirectly through tariffs) and let the markets decide.

TouchdownBuddha on March 21, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Enough
-chu

cmsinaz on March 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM

This has to be the most corrupt and incompetent administration ever. I mean, if they are going to be totally corrupt crony capitalists, at least be good at it and be corrupt with businesses that succeed and make lots of money.

Instead, we have totally corrupt crony capitalism, but it all fails miserably.

Thus, the administration is both corrupt and incompetent.

Between corrupt and competent; incompetent and not corrupt; and corrupt and incompetent, I think I would probably rather have corrupt and competent.

Corrupt and incompetent is the worst of the lot, because then all the corruption doesn’t even result in anything but failed businesses.

Monkeytoe on March 21, 2012 at 9:35 AM

lol! stupid and evil.

tom daschle concerned on March 21, 2012 at 9:36 AM

The Obama administration wants higher prices on everything. It needs to be done to bring the middle class to its knees. Food stamps for everyone!

forest on March 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Ya know…it’s almost as if PBHO and his crew are retards who don’t have the first clue about the basics of business, as if he were a former community organizer or something odd like that.

Bishop on March 21, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Obama’s behind in raising his campaign donations goal…He’s was in a bind ’cause he was is way behind And he was is willin’ to make a deal.

How many of the defunct Green Energy Boondoggles were Obama campaign Bundlers from the 2008 campaign?

Obama is in campaign mode everything is about getting reelected and raising money.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Has there ever been anyone in the White House as clueless as this guy?

right2bright on March 21, 2012 at 9:38 AM

If I am China, I sue and feel good about my chances to win against Obama.

traye on March 21, 2012 at 9:39 AM

The preliminary ruling came in response to a complaint from SolarWorld Industries America, a U.S. manufacturer that is a subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld.

SolarWorld seems to be propped up by it’s own German subsidies. Which are now going to be (rightfully) decreased.

SolarWorld shares dropped 9.58 percent Thursday to 3.56 euros after German officials said they would further cut subsidies, a development that sent numerous solar stocks tumbling.

So SolarWorld are also hypocrites. This is all just crony capitalism and corruption.

visions on March 21, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Trade Wars always work!

/

mankai on March 21, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Most transparently incompetent administration ever.

rbj on March 21, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM

I get that. It just seems like maybe people voted for PBHO because it was the cool thing to do, like they were voting for his skin color rather than his deep and varied experience. Crazy, I know.

Bishop on March 21, 2012 at 9:48 AM

So what Obama’s saying is that his administration sucks at both communism and capitalism. Great.

Weight of Glory on March 21, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I’m happy for the former and appalled at the latter.

Good Lt on March 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

So SolarWorld are also hypocrites. This is all just crony capitalism and corruption.

visions on March 21, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Yes and if Obama’s doesn’t choke off his campaign bundler’s competition, what’s the point of them trying to buy political influence from the Obama administration in the first place, in the form of Campaign Donations?

First a pipeline to no where (This doesn’t hurt his green energy bundlers). But it makes the rubes believe he’s doing something about gas prices. Now a tariff on Chinese solar panels, this is pretty predictable behavior.

If Obama was sincerely concerned about the Chinese taking advantage of us in our economy, he would do something about their currency manipulation.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

I always give the democrats credit for just forging ahead with their agenda. They never play defense (because they don’t have to with our side cowering in fear).

SouthernGent on March 21, 2012 at 9:22 AM

+1

airmonkey on March 21, 2012 at 9:51 AM

If Obama was sincerely concerned about the Chinese taking advantage of us in our economy, he would do something about their currency manipulation.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Isnt that what QE2 and the soon to come QE3 are for…our own currency manipulation?

airmonkey on March 21, 2012 at 9:53 AM

This will directly increase the cost of solar energy (already sky high), which is against the leftists’ stated goal of making alternative energy competitive with oil.

So this is a complication. With all the subsidies, and other breaks, and now this tariff, it’s like a set of convoluted epicycles, needing constant costly adjustments to try to make the uneconomical unrealistic alternative energy work… these costly shenanigans all because of the fictional global warming, er… climate change, that they have foisted and propagated on the duped public (us).

anotherJoe on March 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM

So now solar panels will be more expensive and we will have less incentive to buy them?
Smart (green) Power!

albill on March 21, 2012 at 9:58 AM

“But many others say the complaint is counter-productive. Jigar Shah, president of the industry group Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, said in a statement that tariffs on Chinese panels would slow the growth of solar and cost the industry jobs in the U.S., for example in installation.”

Well, what the hell …
Let’s use Federal prison labor (like the ChiComs) to manufacture all of the solar panels that are supposed to be gracing the stately government buildings.
Methinks that Unicor is up to the task:
http://www.unicor.gov/

Now, let’s place tariffs on ALL their crap. Most of the world does it to America, so why not? Of course if the Moron-in-Chief would allow passage of a few important trade agreements, we just might get somewhere.
Starting a trade war with our benefactors is stupid – unless you go balls-to-the-wall.
(michelle will never let the peas leave the soap dish pod)

OH, BTW …
Did I mention that it was proven decades ago that anything more than a micro-usage of solar is a fool’s errand? Check out the desert studies, greenies.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on March 21, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Where are the Obastard apologists telling all of you enemies of the state that you are wrong and evil and are cheering for the failure of our economy?

bbinfl on March 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM

fossil fuels are still, by a large measure, the most efficient fuels, but with increased efficiency, solar power will replace most other energy sources in the coming century. however, right now, we should be focusing in natural gas, not solar subsidies.

nathor on March 21, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Ed, with all due respect and as your only fellow Santorum fan on this site…I say: YOU ARE 100% WRONG ON THIS!

I mean seriously, who’s side are you on Ed? American manufacturers, or Chinese manufacturers?

Chinese manufacturers don’t only get subsidies, some of them are fully backed by the Chinese government! I don’t see US DOE bank-rolling Solyndra or any other at any cost. They got money, and still failed, yes. Were the funds well spent? HELL NO! And Obama can’t get away with the choice of Solyndra no matter how hard he tries, but I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH YOU THAT FINDING A WAY TO MAKE CHINESE SOLAR TECH LESS ATTRACTIVE ON THE US MARKET IS A SIN OR HYPOCRISY!

So what is it? No Solar tech what so ever? And what ever is done on this is wrong??

YOU TELL ME: What do you think the Chinese gvt would do if our US companies were subsidized and backed by the US government which then allowed them dump (in the true economic term of selling way cheaper)solar panels in mass in the Chinese market?!

Com’on! So are you saying it’s hypocrisy because we subsidize too? What is your point here?! Are you a Chinese defender here!? or Are you now in favor of that??? We can’t afford to do it as much as the Chinese do, so they are finding another way that won’t cost tax dollars…and you are complaining against that TOO??!

Given the market reaction you mentioned above, those tariffs are probably loose change to the Chinese to make for by lowering prices.

I am in favor of helping US manufacturers, who are JOB CREATORS, sustain their growth by creating a favorable environment! Tax is one of the tools that I thought conservatives found good enough. Not anymore?? Enlighten me please.

I know some of you swear only by oil, but I remember even Sarah promoting “all of the above approach” for energy. There is a market for solar panels in the US obviously if the Chinese are importing it in such large quantities….why can’t we have a home-grown solar energy industry??

Is your implication that Chinese competition has nothing to do with why a US solar company can’t sustain itself? Are you guys holding that ransom until we drill more oil? Yeah, that’s really smart./

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on March 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Isnt that what QE2 and the soon to come QE3 are for…our own currency manipulation?

airmonkey on March 21, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Obama: My Plan Makes Electricity Rates Skyrocket

The reason prices are so high at the gas pumps. The devaluation of the dollar – QE1 and QE2. Inflation is called the hidden tax. The dollar is the default global currency, and it’s tied to the price of a barrel of oil.

Obama is choking off oxygen, to all forms of energy development except those of his green energy bundlers. It’s the Chicago way, pay for play.

They think they can nudge us off of fossil fuel. The truth is there is no viable alternative energy in any abundance, that can take the place of our current form of energy. Our economy is too large revenues: $2.264 trillion, to run on wind, sun, and pond scum.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on March 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Wipe up that spittle, son, it’s embarrassing.

Bishop on March 21, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Brought to us by the man who is bound and determined to prove that two wrongs make a right.

And he’ll keep trying until his B+ turns into an A. Just ask him.

VietVet_Dave on March 21, 2012 at 10:14 AM

I’m happy for the former and appalled at the latter.

Good Lt on March 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Heh. The part that bothers me is the “Obama administration” part. Can’t wait till Nov.

Weight of Glory on March 21, 2012 at 10:16 AM

So now solar panels will be more expensive and we will have less incentive to buy them?
Smart (green) Power!

albill on March 21, 2012 at 9:58 AM

It’s not about us. It’s about MONEY.

Big Name Investors Behind Obama’s Failed Green Tech Bet First in Line to Recoup Losses before taxpayers in Obama’s failed green tech bet.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on March 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Calm down, you’re gonna blow a gasket. I believe it’s the hypocrisy, not the policy decision that Ed was highlighting.

ElectricPhase on March 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Using energy to collapse the economy. Don’t believe it? Ask the mailman.

petefrt on March 21, 2012 at 10:23 AM

So all those companies selling SOLAR for homes are now screwed because the cheaper Chinese panels just got a bump up in price.

How many will that add to the unemployment line?

GarandFan on March 21, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on March 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

To this point it looks like most, if not all, of the money that was given to these alternative energy companies wasn’t to generate energy but to line pockets of Obastard supporters. It must be one hell of a coincidence that almost all, if not all, were connected with him or someone in his administration. If this actually were about new usable forms of energy people might get behind it but it’s not, its nothing more than a money laundering scam using our tax dollars.

bbinfl on March 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I wonder if the Chinese are angry at us or laughing at us over this one . . . or both.

WannabeAnglican on March 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I mean seriously, who’s side are you on Ed? American manufacturers, or Chinese manufacturers?

The American people, who pay the tariff bills at the end of the day, as well as anyone else with any basic understanding of economics.

The Chinese people slaving for benefit of the American people is a win for the American people. As long as the Chinese are dumb enough to keep slaving, which probably won’t be forever.

MNHawk on March 21, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Just more proof of Presidebt 0bama’s sooooper smartyness. The man is creating the exact opposite of a perpetual motion economy.

jukin3 on March 21, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Hey it’s a gutsy move. 5%. Stunning.

Kenosha Kid on March 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Trade Wars always work!

/

mankai on March 21, 2012 at 9:41 AM

… and what better time to start one than when the economy’s already in the tank?

double plus /

Lost in Jersey on March 21, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Knott’s Amendment proposal:

Unfettered free enterprise, being necessary to the security and prosperity of a free State, Congress shall make no law respecting, nor shall the president impose, a trade tariff or subsidy on any good, product, or service normally available to the people from whatever source.

Knott Buyinit on March 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM

I wonder if the Chinese are angry at us or laughing at us over this one . . . or both.

WannabeAnglican on March 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM

They’re too busy enjoying that sweet, sweet Canadian oil that Obama so brilliantly declined with the Keystone pipeline to care what tariffs we do or don’t level against them.

thirtyandseven on March 21, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Democrats speak another language.

“Investments” to me, would be a positive thing that would grow.

“Investments” to a Chicago hack, means a kickback to a political supporter.

NoDonkey on March 21, 2012 at 9:23 AM

You say that like it’s a bad thing.
/Chicago hack

Bitter Clinger on March 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM

America’s Fascist capitalism form of government alive and well. Obama, protecting his benefactors/sycophants. The transfer of the American peoples’ wealth to the Fascist Capitalists continues on steroids. Note: If free market capitalism ever did exist in America, it died a long time ago. All business in America know they must pay to play if they want to try to be successful. The only real free market remaining in America is the barter/cash system and government is doing everything possible to make that impossible to transact.

aposematic on March 21, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Trade Wars always work!

/

mankai on March 21, 2012 at 9:41 AM

… and what better time to start one than when the economy’s already in the tank?

double plus /

Lost in Jersey on March 21, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Smoot-Hawley, anyone?

UltimateBob on March 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM

You Wingnutz have to admit that this Venture Socialism™ is really working out!!

Naturally Curly on March 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Why does Obama hate the poor?

unclesmrgol on March 21, 2012 at 11:17 AM

“YOU TELL ME: What do you think the Chinese gvt would do if our US companies were subsidized and backed by the US government which then allowed them dump (in the true economic term of selling way cheaper)solar panels in mass in the Chinese market?!” – The Middle

Since the ChiComs are opening 3-4 coal-fired plants per WEEK, what do THEY care?
Jeebus … sigh
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on March 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Using energy to collapse the economy. Don’t believe it? Ask the mailman.

petefrt on March 21, 2012 at 10:23 AM

This is the teaparty pattern of thinking….he’s a terrorist that plans to destroy the country by evading the two other branches in 4 years.

0bamaderangementsyndrom on March 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Obama isn’t governing at all for the American People. He’s governing for his bundlers.

Expect the Lightsquared EO any day now…

wildcat72 on March 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

“Look Hu……I won”

BobMbx on March 21, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Obama is more like failed Ferengi, which is one who has no idea how to turn a profit…of any kind.

BobMbx on March 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Why doesn’t he just change his name to Hypocrite, it would all make sense then.

D-fusit on March 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM

CHEW CHOO!

KOOLAID2 on March 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM

“YOU TELL ME: What do you think the Chinese gvt would do if our US companies were subsidized and backed by the US government which then allowed them dump (in the true economic term of selling way cheaper)solar panels in mass in the Chinese market?!” – The Middle

Some people can’t see the woods for the timber.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Calm down, you’re gonna blow a gasket. I believe it’s the hypocrisy, not the policy decision that Ed was highlighting.
ElectricPhase on March 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Oh sorry I missed the part of the article where the US told the Chinese to stop subsidizing their companies. Did they? I thought O was trying to be just like them by subsidizing all those green tech companies like Solyndra.

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on March 21, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Soooo – the Chinese subsidize their solar panel companies who then produce cheap functional solar panels – obviously bad.//
Obummer subsidizes US solar panel companies who are using old technology and poor business practices and they subsequently all go out of business – apparently good in lib eyes.
So the obvious answer is to penalize the American consumers by making the functional and affordable Chinese products unaffordable.

At least Obummer is consistent – if your side is too incompetent to make economically feasible products that people want – make the competition artificially unaffordable so your expensive crap looks like a better deal.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2012 at 1:02 PM

So the obvious answer is to penalize the American consumers by making the functional and affordable Chinese products unaffordable. dentarthurdent on March 21, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Well yeah, at least until the Chinese get on the stick, and make a “contribution” to the – get Barack reelected committee.

Dr Evil on March 21, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Another too-bad-they-can’t-both-lose situation. On the fence on this one. Administration does an almost right thing for wrong reason, yes. Tariffs, on principle are not conducive to free trade, no. But everything made in China is made by slave labor without regard to working conditions. Most factories are owned by the Army. So buy ChiCom solar panels or ChiCom flip-flops and you’re helping arm the main enemy of freedom on the Pacific Rim. Plus, China is on the other side of the world. Their solar panels will face the wrong way.

curved space on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on March 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

0bamaderangementsyndrom on March 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM

You two need to read Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and explain to the rest of us how he has the power to impose Tariffs.

RickB on March 21, 2012 at 2:18 PM

“We need alternative energy. We need it so badly that I’m going to make it more expensive for American consumers.”

WeekendAtBernankes on March 21, 2012 at 2:44 PM

This crap doesn’t even surprise me any more.

When I read the article, the first thing to come to mind was… well, that figures.

Yakko77 on March 21, 2012 at 3:15 PM