OUR VIEW: Tariff may be good news for solar factory

By Daily News • Last Updated 12:04 am on Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last week the United States announced it is imposing tariffs of more than 31 percent on solar panels coming from China.

It’s about time.

While it’s too late for our own United Solar Ovonic and its Auburn Hills-based parent company, Energy Conversion Devices, perhaps this decision by the Commerce Department will finally give other U.S.-based solar panel manufacturers a fair crack at competing in the domestic marketplace.

The decision to tax solar panel imports comes after the discovery that Chinese companies were selling panels significantly below what it costs to produce them, a practice known as “dumping.” The goal in these cases — for Chinese solar plants, in this instance — is to drive competitors out of business, which means you can raise your prices without worrying about what the other guy is charging.

When United Solar came to Greenville, the promise for success shone on several fronts: for the company, for the environment, and — most importantly here in Montcalm County — for employment and our local
economy. But you simply can’t compete with prices that undercut the bare bones cost of doing business.

At this point, stewing in anger or resentment at what happened with United Solar doesn’t do a bit of good. What makes more sense is to figure out where we go from here. And we know our leaders have been working on this for months.

We have two beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities that would be a perfect option for an existing solar company to consider. With the latest news of these tariffs, perhaps we will be more attractive to the Chinese market. Not too long ago, word was that Trony Solar Holdings Co., a Chinese thin-film solar panel maker, was in the mix to buy Energy Conversion Devices. It seems like setting up shop in a place like Greenville, with a trained work force and ready made facilities, would be a great option and a way for them to avoid paying import taxes.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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