On December 2, the U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously to move forward on a full investigation of China's solar imports to the US.
The ITC will examine whether Chinese solar imports have harmed US solar manufacturers and whether there should be a penalty for Chinese companies that illegally dump products.
If they decide to implement tariffs, the cost of solar panels could rise 10%. ITC could decide on preliminary remedies as early as Jan. 12.
The move is in response to the SolarWorld led complaint against Chinese "dumping" of low-priced solar panels on the US market, which has made it hard for US solar manufacturers to stay afloat and resulted in several bankruptices, including the high profile Solyndra case.
59 members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, sent a letter to President Obama on December 2, supporting the investigation.
"We cannot strengthen our energy security, or create jobs and economic growth, by replacing Middle East petroleum imports with unfairly traded clean energy technologies imported from China," they write.
China-based PV industries expressed their strong opposition to the petition, saying it distorts the situation and that any trade restrictive measures be imposed would seriously impair further development of the industry and are not in consumers' interests.
The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), a group of US solar manufacturers that oppose the SolarWorld-led group (CASM), are urging the ITC to quickly find an equitable resolution to CASM's trade complaint.
They believe the rapid price reduction of solar panels has opened new markets in the US, and that lower costs are pushing the industry forward.
"The solar industry is uniting in its opposition to SolarWorld's actions, which threaten to stall decades of solar industry growth and development," says Jigar Shah , co-founder of CASE and founder of SunEdison. We cannot prioritize 3% of American solar industry jobs over the remaining 97%."
Here's background on the US solar trade dispute, how it's dividing the US solar industry, and recent developments.