Solar developers are lobbying the Biden administration to bolster support for domestic manufacturing in a long-shot bid to discourage panel makers from seeking additional tariffs on imports.

The prospect of new tariffs has compelled the biggest US renewable trade groups to appeal to White House officials, including climate adviser John Podesta, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named describing private deliberations.

They have floated a range of options designed to boost the competitiveness of US-made solar cells and modules, which would build on subsidies available under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, the people said.

For the groups lobbying the White House, the motivation is clear: Another trade case risks hiking costs and injecting fresh uncertainty into the development of solar projects that already have been slowed by inflation and higher interest rates.

The industry is bracing for at least one solar manufacturer to formally petition the government for new duties to counteract low prices and foreign subsidies. Domestic panel makers also say federal policy changes are necessary to unlock the full benefits of the IRA and meet President Joe Biden’s goal to nurture domestic supply chains.  

The lobbying push includes representatives of the Solar Energy Industries Association and the American Clean Power Association. Neither organization commented on the matter Thursday.

Even as developers make their case to the Biden administration, there’s recognition in the industry that additional federal support for domestic panel making may not head off an anti-dumping complaint. Any federal assistance is seen as unlikely to directly remedy allegations panels are being dumped in the US.

Podesta said the White House is moving to protect investments in domestic solar manufacturing.

“We’re worried about oversupply and dumping into the market,” he said Tuesday at a BloombergNEF summit in New York. “We’re in an active discussion about our policy options to abet that.”

Biden already has decided against extending a two-year tariff holiday on much of the solar cells and modules imported from four Southeast Asian nations, Podesta told attendees at the summit. That moratorium is scheduled to expire in early June. Panels imported under that moratorium must be used by early December to avoid paying duties.

The Biden administration will rigorously enforce that policy — and ensure that imported panels aren’t being inappropriately stockpiled, a White House official said.

Biden also is being lobbied to ensure more domestic solar manufacturing activity benefits from bonus clean energy tax credits meant to promote US supply chains, people familiar with the discussions said.

The administration also is poised to expand an existing tariff on solar equipment so that it applies to two-sided panels, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because there has been no public announcement. That expected move was first reported by Reuters.

US manufacturers asked the administration to end that tariff exemption for so-called bi-facial panels well before the latest push from developers.