US wind power makers file complaint against China and Vietnam

The case was filed by the Wind Tower Trade Coalition comprising of Trinity Structural Towers, DMI Industries, Katana Summit and Broadwind Energy at the Commerce Department, which has 20 days to decide whether to initiate an investigation.

In addition, another government agency, the International Trade Commission, will hold a hearing in about three weeks to decide whether there is reasonable indication that the domestic industry is suffering from the imports or is under threat from them. It should reach a preliminary determination in 45 days. If the commission says there is an indication of a threat, the Commerce Department would reach a preliminary determination within six months on whether the two countries are guilty of dumping. At that point, duties could be imposed. A final determination would take about a year, if the wind coalition wins all the earlier rounds.

Imports of towers from Vietnam and China roughly doubled in 2011, according to Mr Alan H Price, a lawyer at the firm that filed the case, Mr Price said “Like in so much of clean energy sector, there’s tremendous Chinese government subsidies that have gone into this sector and distorting it.”

The complaint seeks duties of more than 64% on Chinese imports, and more than 59% for Vietnamese imports. Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment. The official Xinhua news agency had no immediate comment or reports on the issue.

The companies bringing the complaint buy high quality plate steel and cut it so that it forms a slightly conical shape when it is rolled into a cylinder. They weld the long seam in the rolled structures, called cans, and then stack the cans to form taller units, each with a flange at top and bottom. The units are shipped to wind farms where they are bolted together to form a tower.

Towers can reach 300 feet and weigh 350 tons, and the largest ones sell in the range of USD 600,000, a price largely determined by the price of steel. The US industry installed about 2,900 towers in 2010 and probably more in 2011.