By Steve Geimann, Judy Pasternak
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Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Ron Wyden asked President Barack Obama to investigate imports of solar panels from China in a bid to help U.S. producers compete with a flood of imports.
Without that support from Obama, the domestic U.S. industry may be put out of business by Chinese companies benefiting from unfair government subsidies, Wyden wrote today in a letter.
"The American solar industry is facing unparalleled challenges and without the leadership of your administration this industry may disappear," Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, wrote in the letter. "Letting that happen is unacceptable."
Solar-panel imports from China are on pace to more than triple this year from 2010, Wyden said. The senator is seeking administration support after three solar-panel manufacturers failed, citing competition from overseas competitors. Solyndra LLC, which won a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009, sought bankruptcy protection Sept. 6, six days after closing a factory and firing 1,100 employees. Solyndra's Fremont, California, headquarters were raided today by federal agents. Solyndra said it failed after it was unable to compete with foreign companies backed by their governments.
Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlboro, Massachusetts, and SpectraWatt Inc. of Hopewell Junction, New York, filed separately for bankruptcy reorganization last month, blaming price declines and competition from solar-panel makers in China.
Wyden asked Obama to bring dumping and countervailing duty cases against imports of solar panels from China, use a safeguard provision to cap imports or file a complaint against China at the World Trade Organization against its subsidies.
"Please know that if your administration is unwilling to take the appropriate steps, with haste, I will advance a legislative effort," Wyden said.