Utility Scale, Wind Power

U.S. Wind Tower Manufacturers File Trade Complaint

Heightened trade tensions between American and Chinese manufacturers spilled into the wind industry Thursday as a U.S. coalition filed petitions that seek stiff tariffs on towers coming into the U.S. market.

The Wind Tower Trade Coalition, according to Dan Pickard of coalition counsel Wiley Rein, includes Trinity Towers, DMI, Broadwind and Katana Summit. The group has filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to open an anti-dumping investigation against Chinese and Vietnamese wind tower manufacturers sending their product into the U.S. market and a countervailing duty investigation into Chinese manufacturers importing into the U.S. According to Wiley Rein, “the petitions assert dumping margins of 64.37 percent for China and 59.11 percent for Vietnam.”

The DOC and the ITC are expected to initiate investigations within three weeks of the filing.  The ITC’s preliminary injury determination is expected in February, and the DOC is expected to make its preliminary determinations within six months. Tariffs that could impact the price of U.S. wind developments would be felt within six months if rulings come in favor of the U.S. coalition. A final determination is due in nine to 13 months.

The petitions cover only utility scale wind towers with a generating capacity of more than 100 kilowatts, and do not cover other components of a wind turbine, such as the rotor blades or nacelles.  The cases cover towers whether they are imported partially or fully assembled.  According to some estimates, the wind tower reflects about 20 percent of the cost of an installed wind turbine.

A coalition of American solar manufacturers is waging a similar battle against the prices coming from solar panels being manufactured in China. That case has proved to be a point of division within the industry, with some feeling that low cost panels contribute to more installations and more jobs. Others, mainly those involved in manufacturing, say it is important to maintain American jobs and American industry.

Pickard indicated many of the same factors are at play within the wind tower industry.

“There are significant volumes coming in and capturing some of the biggest projects in the U.S.,” he said. “Some of the fundamental concerns are the same [as the solar industry case]. It’s to keep manufacturers playing on a level playing field.”