Ogilvy PR Worldwide’s Washington, D.C., office is supporting a new coalition of U.S.-based solar companies as it wages a campaign against what it says are illegal trade practices in China hurting the domestic solar sector.

solarThe Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing emerged as a new trade group this month under the leadership of silicon solar cell panel maker SolarWorld Industries America, bringing a more confrontational approach to handling China, which heavily subsidies its solar cell market.

SolarWorld is backed by six other unnamed solar companies with U.S. operations. The coalition on Friday blasted China’s Ministry of Commerce for making “misleading and unfounded statements” about a legal challenge filed by the new coalition at the U.S. Commerce Department last week.

Ogilvy declined to comment on its role with the CASM.

SolarWorld president Gordon Brinser called the Chinese government’s criticism of the trade action “absurd.”

“China’s predatory and illegal aggression is crippling the U.S. industry,” he said. “CASM is holding China accountable for its disregard of the very trade rules it has agreed to follow. Rather than handing over the keys to the industry, CASM has decided to take a stand and defend U.S. innovation, industry, and jobs.”

Brunswick Group's Bejing office works with Trina Solar, a China-based solar company which was named in the trade action and criticized the move led by SolarWorld.

"Trina Solar believes the allegations made by the U.S. petitioners will eventually prove to be unfounded and that Trina Solar's transactions with its United States customers were made in accordance with international trade practices," said a statement from Brunswick. The company has, and will continue to, adhere to prudent and recognized United States industry practices and standards."

The New York Times reported Oct. 19 that the new trade group was formed after the U.S. solar industry split on whether to tackle the China issue as the existing trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, includes U.S. subsidiaries of Chinese companies.

CASM’s case before the Commerce Department seeks tariffs of 100 percent on the wholesale price of solar panels from China.

The U.S. solar sector has taken a hit in recent months as criticism centered on more than $500M in federal loan guarantees given to solar cell maker Solyndra before it went bankrupt in September.

SolarWorld is the Oregon-based U.S. operation of Germany-based SolarworldAG.