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Biden invokes Defense Production Act to boost solar panel manufacturing

The president is also issuing a two-year tariff exemption on solar panel imports from several Southeast Asian nations.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks during an event to award the Public Safety Officer Medals of Valor in the East Room of the White House, on May 16, 2022.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is using his executive powers Monday to boost the domestic production of solar panels and their parts and will issue a 24-month tariff exemption on imports of the products from several countries.

The White House said Biden will authorize the use of the Defense Production Act to accelerate manufacturing of solar panels in the United States as a way to strengthen the administration's efforts to shift the country toward clean energy.

The move will allow the Department of Energy to "rapidly expand" U.S. manufacturing of solar panel parts, power grid infrastructure such as transformers, heat pumps, building insulation and other equipment, the White House said in a news release.

Biden is also directing that "master supply agreements" are used "to increase the speed and efficiency with which domestic clean electricity providers can sell their products to the U.S. government," the release said.

In addition, Biden is using his executive authority to temporarily allow tariff-free solar panel imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“President Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act so that the U.S. can take ownership of its clean energy independence,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “For too long the nation’s clean energy supply chain has been over-reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations."

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement that imported solar panels are "an important component to addressing the immediate demands of bringing additional energy sources online and addressing the energy needs of the American people."

"As droughts cripple the West and Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Ukraine have placed increasing strains on America’s energy market, preventing disruptions to the electric power system, diversifying our energy sources and responding to the climate crisis have never been more urgent, and solar energy is an essential component of meeting those needs," she said.

The exemption for the four countries comes after a Commerce Department investigation into whether solar panels imported from those nations were circumventing tariffs on goods made in China, according to Reuters.

"I remain committed to upholding our trade laws and ensuring American workers have a chance to compete on a level playing field," Raimondo said.