Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sherrod Brown of Ohio unveiled a proposal on Tuesday that would disqualify Chinese-made solar panels from a 30 percent solar-investment tax credit meant to incentivize the solar market.
"We can't trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese-made solar panels," Brown said. "We went from a solar trade surplus with China to a solar trade deficit in a matter of years," he added, noting that the Chinese export subsidies create an unfair playing field for U.S. solar manufacturers.
In their plan, Brown and Schumer suggest modifying either the Energy Investment Credit or the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit to include a domestic-content requirement requiring that 70 percent of the parts of the qualifying solar panel be made in the U.S. If the final panels were manufactured in the U.S., however, the requirement would be reduced to 50 percent of the parts being made in the U.S. to qualify for the tax incentives.
The proposal, Schumer and Brown said, would loosen China's grip on the solar market, which has grown as Chinese companies have taken in government subsidies, leading to plunging prices for wholesale solar panel makers in the United States.