Shares of companies operating in the solar energy industry, including First Solar (FSLR - Free Report) , plummeted on Monday after the potential impacts from a recent U.S. International Trade Commission ruling began to sink in.
On Friday, the U.S. ITC issued a preliminary ruling regarding cheaply sold, foreign manufactured solar panels and cells. The initial decision, which was determined by a 4-0 vote, stated that less expensive imported solar panels have hurt American solar firms and manufacturers.
The commission officially stated "that increased imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported article.”
ITC’s ruling came in response to a case brought by two now-bankrupt solar equipment manufacturers, Suniva and SolarWorld. The firms argued that an increased amount of cheap solar imports harmed the industry and put U.S. solar companies at risk.
The commission is set to hold a public hearing to expand on its findings on Oct. 3. Following the hearing, the ITC will recommend a course of action to President Donald Trump by Nov. 13.
Since the initial ITC ruling, there has already been a great deal of backlash to any potential tariffs or limitations and restrictions to free trade for solar energy companies. The Solar Energy Industries Association has been one of the most vocal opponents so far. The association stated that they think tariffs will raise overall costs for solar panels and hurt the industry as a whole.
Although an official ruling is likely weeks away, it seems that many investors are worried that solar tariffs and trade restrictions could indeed be imposed—and that these restrictions would, in fact, harm solar companies. In turn, shares of some of the biggest solar energy manufacturers, including many U.S. firms, sunk on Monday.
After experiencing a strong run since the spring, shares of First Solar tanked 8.81%, while SunPower Corporation (SPWR - Free Report) stock fell by 6.94%. Shares of Vivint Solar, Inc. (VSLR - Free Report) plummeted 14.29%.
JA Solar saw its stock price dip by over 4.50%, while shares of solar and renewable energy sector ETFs, the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN - Free Report) and the VanEck Vectors Solar Energy ETF , dropped by 4.28% and 2.30%, respectively.
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