"Essentially, China is trying to corner the market," Elijah Sonnier, quality manager at MX Solar USA, a panel manufacturer in Somerset, N.J., and one of the seven coalition companies, said this month. "They corner the market and push everyone else out, and then they set their own prices."
Despite the smaller than expected advantage announced by the Commerce Department, a spokesman for one coalition company said he expects the estimation of the Chinese subsidy to grow as the investigation continues.
"So far it's been determined that fully 10 subsidy programs the Chinese are using are illegal under US and international trade law," Ben Santarris, a spokesman for SolarWorld Industries America in Hillsboro, Ore., says in an interview. "It's just the first step in a multi-step process. It's not unusual for preliminary determinations to come in at these levels or for the numbers to change significantly between the preliminary and final determination."
In a January finding in the runup to Tuesday’s announcement, the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration determined that Chinese manufacturers had apparently dumped "massive" quantities of solar panels into the US market that were sold far more cheaply than US-made panels. According to the finding, the lower price was mainly because the panels were heavily subsidized by dozens of low-cost Chinese government loan programs and other subsidies.