Liberal Billionaire Who Made a Killing on Chinese Solar Panels Wants Biden To Dump Chinese Solar Tariffs

John Arnold has given millions to the New Venture Fund and Center for American Progress

John Arnold (Arnold Ventures Facebook)
August 2, 2023

The liberal billionaire and former Enron executive John Arnold has made a tidy profit selling solar energy farms in the United States in part by importing solar panels from China. Now, in an effort to keep the gravy train rolling, Arnold is suggesting that the Biden administration remove Obama-era tariffs that boosted the prices of those panels.

"What can be done?" Arnold asked in a tweet, referring to the increasing cost of solar energy. "Easier measures include removing tariffs on solar panels, addressing hurdles to development of transmission, easing permitting, and adding resources to fast-track interconnection studies. But first we must acknowledge the problem rather than ignoring it."

Now worth $3.3 billion, Arnold has quietly established himself as a major Democratic donor. His philanthropy, Arnold Ventures, claims to tackle "some of the most pressing problems in the United States" and poured nearly $40 million into New York bail reform.

Arnold's company, Centaurus Renewable Energy, imported over 1,000 tons worth of solar panels in May 2016 from Shanghai Byd Co., shipping records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show. Shanghai Byd is the subsidiary of a Chinese company that the Commerce Department found in December had circumvented 2012 solar tariffs by shipping products to Southeast Asia for final assembly before delivery to the United States—though Centaurus's 2016 shipment came directly from China.

President Joe Biden in June 2022 imposed a two-year pause on solar import duties from Southeast Asia—which Congress tried unsuccessfully to reverse after the Commerce Department found in December that Chinese companies were using those countries as a back door to evade tariffs—but left the tariffs on China intact.

Arnold has close ties to Democratic strategist John Podesta, who now oversees the $369 billion green energy slush fund authorized by Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. The billionaire has contributed up to $500,000 to the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank that Podesta founded.

Arnold and other left-wing billionaires have reaped benefits from the green energy slush fund controlled by Podesta, the Free Beacon reported. Arnold is a major investor in Ioneer, a mining company that saw its stock price increase by 33 percent after winning a $700 million loan from the Biden administration to build a lithium mine in Nevada. Arnold also announced in March that he was committing "several hundred million dollars" to Grid United, a startup that seeks to build out infrastructure to transmit energy from solar and wind farms to coastal population centers. Grid United could be in line to nab part of the $760 million earmarked by the Inflation Reduction Act for power line developers, Forbes reported.

Arnold declined to comment.