From Green Right Now Reports

The U.S. Commerce Department has announced it will investigate SolarWorld’s charge that China is unfairly dumping cheap illicitly subsidized solar panels into the U.S. market.

Solar World alleges that China is unfairly selling cheaper panels supported by China's solar subsidy programs.

Should investigators find that the allegation has credibility, it could impose duties or import fees on Chinese-made photovoltaic panels. That could level the playing field for the U.S. manufacturers of solar panels and components, such as Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America. But it could hurt companies that depend upon those lower priced Chinese solar panels to keep afloat their businesses installing solar systems.

Solar World, the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the U.S., praised the finding that the trade issue merited investigation.

“We are pleased that the facts have begun to speak for themselves,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., in Hillsboro, Ore., which is part of Solar World, located in Freiburg, Germany.

“China’s plans for the U.S. market have been clear from its excessive and illegal subsidization of its export-heavy industry, its ever-escalating drive to dump product at artificially low prices on the U.S. marketplace and its contrived public-affairs tactics, including a new coalition for Chinese importers that purports to serve the interests of American consumers.”

Chinese PV panel imports more than doubled in the U.S. from 2009 to 2010, rising to $1.5 billion, according to the Commerce Department.

SolarWorld contends the “dumping” is growing. China’s “state-sponsored industry has mounted an onslaught of dumping that has included a surge of imports in recent months. Chinese exports into the United States in July alone exceeded those of all of 2010, according to federal trade data.”

SolarWorld and the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing believe that Americans support domestic manufacturing.

But many U.S. solar industry companies could be hurt by increases in the cost of solar panels made in China.  Many rooftop PV panel installers and solar leasing companies rely upon Chinese-made PV components and panel modules to keep costs down.

Solar companies that erect commercial and rooftop PV installations provide many solar industry jobs, and more small business employment than the highly robotic production of solar panels.

About 100,000 people are employed in the solar industry in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

SolarWorld employs about 3,500 worldwide.

The International Trade Commission is expected to make a determination on whether the case should proceed by Dec. 5.