• REC Silicon had cut down 40% workforce at Moses Lake facility in July 2018, but it now faces complete closure of the fab itself, thanks to ongoing trade dispute between US and China
  • The closure would result in the loss of 150-200 highly skilled manufacturers according to a letter written to the federal administration by some members of US Congress
  • These bi-partisan Congress group has called on the US government to immediately address challenges faced by the country’s polysilicon industry because of the tariffs imposed by China in 2014
  • They urge the Trump administration to find a resolution to the trade dispute by the government’s trade negotiators followed by a progress report on the steps taken

US solar polysilicon manufacturer REC Silicon is at the verge of shutting its Moses Lake polysilicon fab in Washington. A statement published by US Senator Dave Reichert confirms the development. In July 2018, the company announced it was cutting down 40% of its workforce at Moses Lake facility owing to the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China (see REC Silicon Laying Off 100 Workers At US Factory).

The silicon maker has now found support in several politicians who are now spearheading a campaign to urge the Trump administration to immediately address the challenges being faced by the US polysilicon industry. Both Republican and Democrat Senators form part of this team – including Republicans Dave Reichert and Dan Newhouse as well as Democrats’ Senators Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Denny Heck. In a letter addressed to the US President Donald Trump, the members of Congress talk about the immediate and dire threats to the industry that could force the closure of REC Silicon’s fab. It was also signed by the members of Montana’s congressional delegation.

In July we warned that the trade dispute between the US and China over solar power was threatening hundreds of highly skilled jobs in Washington State and Montana, and we regret to inform you that REC will be forced to completely shutter its operations in Moses Lake, Washington at the end of this month,” reads the letter. “The closure will result in the loss of 150-200 highly skilled manufacturers and will severely impact the economy of Eastern Washington.”

The letter asks federal administration to find an immediate resolution to the trade dispute that has been in effect since 2014 when China slapped tariffs on polysilicon materials from the US. The demand is for the government to raise the issues facing the industry by the latter’s trade negotiators followed by a progress report on the steps taken.

“We believe a resolution over solar panels and polysilicon could serve as a symbol of good faith on both sides, protect intellectual property that provides domestic manufacturers a competitive edge, and spark meaningful progress in the larger trade negotiations between the US and China,” according to the letter.

This is the second letter the congress members have written to the administration; a previous letter was sent on July 23, 2018.