Gov. Youngkin Sounds Alarm to Defense Secretary Austin on “China Solar” at Pentagon

Gov. Youngkin Sounds Alarm to Defense Secretary Austin on “China Solar” at Pentagon

Will the Pentagon spend $104 million on solar made by a Chinese company? It might be. 

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin inquired about a new Pentagon solar purchasing plan in a letter dated June 10 to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Youngkin wants Austin’s commitment that the solar will be made locally.  The Pentagon is in Arlington, VA.

Another solar program, namely the Solar for All program for rooftop solar in lower-income parts of the country, is tied to the Buy America Act. Those solar panels must be made in the U.S., including the steel that holds the panels in place on the rooftops. But the AFFECT Program does not have those purchasing requirements.  

On Monday, Youngkin was the first guest on the Guy Benson radio show, where he basically reiterated much of what he said in the letter. “The CCP dominates the solar panel supply chain. And here we are going to mandate that solar panels, probably with China parts in them, be installed on the Pentagon. Lloyd Austin needs to revisit this idea, and if they do install solar, it should be mandatory to include a Buy America clause on anything to be built on an American defense installation.”

Youngkin did not say if the solar bought with AFFECT Program money has to come from an American-owned company, however. He was adamant that the solar not be made by a Chinese entity. This would likely include Jinko Solar, a major Chinese manufacturer making solar panels in Jacksonville, Florida from imported solar cells.

Youngkin has taken tough positions against Chinese companies in the clean energy space in the past.  In December 2022, he banned Chinese EV battery maker CATL from setting up shop in Virginia to make batteries for the Ford F-150 Lightning battery-powered pickup truck. He made that decision to “stand firm against funding affiliates of foreign adversaries,” he said.

In December 2023, Biden banned CATL from all Defense Department procurement contracts. Unfortunately, that is not the case with solar, Youngkin wrote.

Last week, the International Trade Commission voted in favor of investigating another solar trade case against Chinese multinationals operating out of Southeast Asia. At least seven companies, including First Solar of Arizona, say Chinese companies there are circumventing mainland China tariffs and dumping solar cells and modules into the U.S.  This comes roughly a year after Commerce ruled that five Chinese solar companies were doing just that, including big names Trina Solar, BYD Solar, and Canadian Solar.


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