Utilities, Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  October 6, 2017

Trade dispute bottlenecks US solar purchases

Utilities and corporations are hitting the pause button on the pursuit of solar energy deal as uncertainty around the outcome of a federal trade case on solar modules, Bloomberg News reported Oct. 4. 

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Sept. 22  made its first decision on a controversial, high-profile case with major implications for the country's solar industry, voting 4-0 to find that imports of low-cost solar panels are damaging domestic solar manufacturers. With the case headed to President Donald Trump for a decision on whether or not the government should impose tariffs on solar module imports — a move that analysts have said would double the price of solar in the U.S. and destroy two-thirds of demand — the uncertainty, which will likely linger for months, has potential buyers playing a waiting game. 

"Projects are on hold," Bloomberg quoted Yumin Liu, president of Canadian Solar Inc.'s Recurrent Energy development unit, as saying. The news agency noted that Recurrent has multiple projects that were initially scheduled to begin commercial operations next year, but it is no longer certain if that will happen on time.

The ITC has until Nov. 13 to make its remedy recommendations to the Trump administration, which will have two months to reach a final policy. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which has been flanked with support from a wide-range of companies, associations and organizations in fighting against the petition (filed by Suniva and SolarWorld) through the recently formed Energy Trade Action Coalition, reportedly met with a series of stakeholders at the White House on Oct. 4, though Axios reported they "could have an uphill climb at a time when the White House has signaled it favor a tough posture on trade in general." 

Axios cited a note from research firm ClearView Energy Partners as saying: "We continue to believe President Trump may use this proceeding — which targets a relatively narrow energy subsector — as a test case for his tough-on-trade America First agenda."

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