Chinese Wind Tower Importers Ordered To Pay Up

The parade of giant wind towers into the United States might be over.

Adding to anti-subsidy duties of between 13 and 26 percent on tower imports from China, U.S. trade authorities are now slapping antidumping duties of between 20 and 72 percent on Chinese imports and 52 to 59 percent on towers from Vietnam.

china wind tower duties

Tower sections from a Chinese manufacturer. (image via Titan Wind Energy)

These new rulings [PDF], like the earlier one, are preliminary, but the U.S. Department of Commerce said it will nonetheless instruct customs officials to begin collecting duties on towers pending a final verdict in the case before the end of this year.

The rulings came in response to a trade complaint [PDF] filed by U.S. manufacturers –Trinity Structural Towers, DMI Industries, Katana Summit and Broadwind Energy, all based in the Midwest.

The fight over wind is just one aspect of a growing trade fissure on green energy between China and the West. Last week, a coalition of European companies asked the European Commission to investigate Chinese companies for allegedly dumping solar products in Europe, a complain that followed directly on the heels of similar – and so far successful – allegations in the United States.

While the solar market is measured in the billions of dollars, Commerce Department said imports of utility-scale wind towers from China in 2011 were valued at $222 million, and those from Vietnam at $79 million.

Still, the issue is volatile. Imported wind towers recently entered into the political debate about the U.S.’s clean-energy loan guarantee program when Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) complained that the 854-megawatt Caithness Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon, recipient of a $1.3 billion loan guarantee, used Chinese-manufactured towers in building what will soon open as one of the world’s largest wind farms.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.