by J.D. Davidson
Ohio solar manufacturers want to be on equal footing with foreign competition, and Gov. Mike DeWine is pushing President Joe Biden not to give other countries an “unfair advantage” over American businesses.
In a letter to Biden, DeWine called a decision this week to ban new tariffs for two years on solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam a mistake and nod to China.
“In addition, it will have the effect of favoring China at the expense of American solar panel manufacturers who create good-paying jobs for Ohioans and play by the rules,” DeWine wrote. “I urge you to reconsider this decision in order to better support our important homegrown energy sector jobs and not give an unfair advantage to other countries.”
DeWine used First Solar, an Ohio company in Perrysburg, as an example of an American company that could be harmed. First Solar employs more than 2,000 people in the United States and is building a third manufacturing plant in the state.
“It is imperative that we, as Americans, support and increase our solar energy panel manufacturing capacity in the United States to help build our energy independence and create jobs for Americans,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association praised DeWine’s effort.
“Ohio Manufacturers are grateful for Governor DeWine’s leadership to expedite reshoring of strategically important manufacturing activity,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. “Provided equal footing, Ohio manufacturers can compete with any manufacturer in the world. The supply disruption has dramatically underscored the importance – for economic and national security purposes – of strengthening supply chains and expanding domestic production.”
Biden announced earlier this week a U.S. Department of Commerce investigation would continue to examine if solar panels imported from the counties dodged tariffs on goods made in China. He also invoked the Defense Production Act to allow the federal government to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies, including solar panels, according to a White House statement.
“Together, these actions will spur domestic manufacturing, construction projects, and good-paying jobs – all while cutting energy costs for families, strengthening our grid, and tackling climate change and environmental injustice. With a stronger clean energy arsenal, the United States can be an even stronger partner to our allies, especially in the face of Putin’s war in Ukraine,” the statement said.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.