Suntech Power Holdings has decided to permanently close its module assembly plant in Arizona with the loss of 43 jobs, citing US government imposed duties on imported solar cells and aluminium used in solar module frames.
The Arizona plant was established in October 2010 and had reached production of 50MW per year in 2011. However, the company said that in November 2012, production was scaled back to only 15MW after the imposition of tariffs made module costs uncompetitive. Suntech will close the facility on April 3, 2013. Suntech was the only Chinese module manufacturer with a production plant in the US.
"We want to thank our employees in Goodyear for their hard work and professionalism, as well as the Goodyear and Phoenix communities for their steadfast support of Suntech over the past several years," said E.L McDaniel, Managing Director of Suntech America. "These are the growing pains of a maturing industry; although it's a tough time to be a solar manufacturer, there's never been a better time to be a solar customer."
Suntech has been severely impacted by a range of external and internal issues over the last year that have been compounded by large financial losses and management reshuffling, including a move to oust its founder and Chairman Dr Shi.
"Rationalising production capacity is necessary to improve our manufacturing utilization and help Suntech to return to profitability," said David King, Suntech's Chief Executive. "We're hopeful that these tough decisions will help put Suntech back on track for growth."
In November 2012, the U.S. International Trade Commission imposed tariffs of 35.97% on Suntech's solar cells produced in China, which were used in its modules made at the Arizona plant.