U.S. International Trade Commission approves investigation into solar energy sector complaints of unfair Chinese trade practices, finds potential for harm to U.S. solar panel industry

WASHINGTON , December 2, 2011 () – A federal trade panel has found that Chinese imports harm or threaten to harm the U.S. solar panel industry.

That means a complaint by U.S. solar companies can continue.

Seven companies complained to the International Trade Commission in October that Chinese competitors were "dumping" solar products on global markets to depress prices.

The complaint asks for tough trade penalties on Chinese solar imports.

The trade panel voted unanimously Friday to investigate.

The case has caused a split in the solar industry.

Some U.S. companies say Chinese imports have lowered prices for solar panels, helping consumers and promoting rapid growth of the industry.

California-based Solyndra Inc. cited competition from China as it filed for bankruptcy in September despite receiving a half-billion-dollar federal loan.

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