Tariffs on Chinese solar panels are welcome news to a Watertown area manufacturing project – WWNY

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TOWN OF HOUNSFIELD, New York (WWNY) – A bill signed by President Biden this week is welcome news to a solar panel manufacturer in the process of planting roots in the North Country.

President Joe Biden has slapped new tariffs on Chinese supplies. One of them being solar panels. Local economic officials say it paves the way for solar panel manufacturer Convalt to continue with its plans to build in Jefferson County.

Nestled next to Watertown International Airport in the Town of Hounsfield is a clearing waiting for Convalt Energy’s solar panel manufacturing facility to take shape.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Jefferson County,” said Marshall Weir, Jefferson County Economic Development CEO.

Amid delays, Convalt got a big win this week when President Joe Biden slapped new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and other green energy imports including solar panels.

Chinese solar manufacturers are known for “dumping.” A practice where companies in one country export a product to another country at a lower price.

“This really levels the playing field for American manufacturers to compete with Chinese equipment,” said Weir.

Convalt CEO Hari Achuthan tells 7News the loopholes being exploited by Chinese manufacturers need to be closed so “we can go close our financing and complete construction of our factories.”

Weir calls this a real opportunity for manufacturers like Convalt. The project had been delayed a few times while the company worked on financing which economic officials say has been difficult given Chinese prices.

“We’re working on extending our land development agreement for our project at the airport, and we’re expecting things to move fairly quickly on that,” said Weir.

Convalt is one of seven U.S. solar manufacturers that make up the American Alliance for Solar Manufacturing Trade Committee. It signed an antidumping petition to also include Chinese companies working in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Achuthan tells 7News “This is much needed for manufacturers like Convalt which is in the process of setting up the largest cell factory in the United States, right here in Watertown, New York.”

As for where the project stands, Achuthan says Convalt is working with its bankers to finalize funding and a start date for operations.

Around 35 to 40 people are already working for the company at the Jefferson County Economic Development building.

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