Category: Solar

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COMMERCE EXTENDS INITIATION DEADLINE IN SOLAR CIRCUMVENTION INQUIRIES & USTR TO START TARGETED CHINA 301 TARIFF EXCLUSION PROCESS
2
White House Chooses Exclusion of Silica-Based Products Produced Using Forced Labor, Impacting Solar PVs
3
Join Us: PV Magazine Webinar – Is your company capturing the 2020 safe harbor?
4
U.S. ENERGY STORAGE ASSOCIATION RECOGNIZES K&L GATES WITH BRAD ROBERTS OUTSTANDING INDUSTRY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
5
K&L Gates Advises Unico Solar Investors on Commercial and Industrial Solar Projects Joint-Venture Partnership
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Join Us: COVID-19: Renewable Energy – Global Post-COVID-19 Outlook
7
Treasury Guidance Buoys Solar and Wind in 2020 and Beyond
8
CLE Presentation: COVID-19: Perspectives for the “Next New Normal” for Renewable and Utility Companies
9
Join Us! Energy Storage Association Webinar: Energy Storage, Trade and China
10
Treasury to Extend Deadlines for Accessing Wind, Solar Tax Credits

COMMERCE EXTENDS INITIATION DEADLINE IN SOLAR CIRCUMVENTION INQUIRIES & USTR TO START TARGETED CHINA 301 TARIFF EXCLUSION PROCESS

By: Stacy J. Ettinger

COMMERCE EXTENDS INITIATION DEADLINE IN SOLAR CIRCUMVENTION INQUIRIES – NEW DEADLINE LATE NOV

On September 29, 2021, Commerce determined to delay a decision on initiation in the solar circumvention inquiries. Commerce instead asked the US solar manufacturers – A-SMACC (the so-called American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention) – for additional information. In particular, Commerce requested additional information related to why the A-SMACC companies have requested anonymity in the circumvention proceeding. Commerce also requested information regarding the A-SMACC companies’ ties to business interests in China or Southeast Asian countries.

At the request of A-SMACC,  Commerce extended the deadline for A-SMACC’s response to the additional questions until October 13. Commerce regulations permit other interested parties to file comments on A-SMACC’s response within seven days.

Commerce has indicated it will make its decision on initiation within 45 days of A-SMACC filing its response to Commerce’s questions. Assuming A-SMACC files on October 13, Commerce’s decision on initiation would be due on or by November 27. If Commerce initiates on November 27, the final results of the full investigation would be due on or by September 23, 2022.

Note that the new Commerce initiation deadline is just past the date the US International Trade Commission is expected to make its decision on the solar safeguard/201 extension (November 24, 2021).

Senate letter. On September 29 (around the time Commerce was initially set to issue its initiation determinations) twelve Senators sent a letter to the Commerce Secretary Raimondo expressing concerns regarding the anonymous petitions alleging illegal trade activity filed with the Department that would have “a devastating impact on the US solar industry and American solar jobs.” The Senators urged Commerce to “carefully assess the validity” of the petitions.

Background. On August 16, US solar manufacturers (the so-called American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention) requested that Commerce launch a circumvention inquiry on imports of solar products produced in Chinese-owned factories in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. If Commerce initiates on November 27, the final results of the full investigation would be due around by September 23, 2022.

A wide range of interested parties have filed comments on A-SMACC’s initial anti-circumvention inquiry request. The parties have raised factual and legal issues related to whether A-SMACC’s inquiry provides sufficient justification for initiation. The parties have also made economic and policy arguments regarding the negative impact if Commerce were to initiate.

In particular, the interested parties argue that initiation of the circumvention inquiry would disrupt solar imports as companies park panels/modules offshore. They also argue that initiation would  undermine the Biden Administration’s push for expansion of US solar installation and capacity. In addition, nearly 200 companies involved in the solar industry, along with solar industry groups, have warned that imposition of tariffs on imported panels/modules from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand would devastate the industry and threaten US jobs.

The circumvention action is tied to the AD/CVD orders on Chinese CSPV cells. The petitioners in the circumvention case are arguing that imports of solar panels/modules produced in Chinese-owned factories in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, with Chinese wafers and other Chinese components, should be subject to current antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Chinese cells/modules.

Commerce (or CBP) could act to make the circumvention findings retroactive, which means there is the potential that importers could be on the hook for payment of additional duties on previous imports.

USTR TO START TARGETED CHINA 301 TARIFF EXCLUSION PROCESS

On October 8, USTR published notice that it will consider requests to reinstate previously-granted China 301 tariff exclusions. The catch is: (1) only previously-granted exclusions that were subsequently extended through the end of 2020 are up for consideration; and (2) the reinstated exclusions would only apply to merchandise entered into the US on or after October 12, 2021 (the date USTR opens the public docket for filing reinstatement requests).

USTR intends to evaluate the possible reinstatement of each exclusion on a case-by-case basis. The public docket opens on October 12, 2021. The deadline for filing comments is December 1, 2021. Parties seeking to comment on more than one exclusion must submit a separate comment for each exclusion.

USTR has provided a list of the 549 previously-extended product exclusions up for consideration, on its website.[1] In addition, comments need to be filed using the form provided by USTR on its website.[2] The form contains specific requests for information regarding the company, many of which will look familiar from the original exclusion and exclusion extension process.   

A key factor in USTR’s evaluation will be whether the particular product remains available only from China. USTR is requesting that commenters address the following issues—

  • Whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries.
  • Any changes in the global supply chain since September 2018 with respect to the particular product or any other relevant industry developments.
  • The efforts, if any, the importers or US purchasers have undertaken since September 2018 to source the product from the United States or third countries.
  • Domestic capacity for producing the product in the United States.

In addition, USTR will consider—

  • Whether or not reinstating the exclusion will impact or result in severe economic harm to the commenter or other US interests, including the impact on small businesses, employment,  manufacturing output, and critical supply chains in the United States, and
  • The overall impact of the exclusions on the goal of obtaining the elimination of China’s acts, policies, and practices covered in the section 301 investigation.

Exclusion track record. From 2018 to 2020, US stakeholders submitted about 53,000 exclusion requests to USTR for specific products covered by the section 301 China tariffs. A US Government Accountability Office report found that the agency denied 46,000 of those requests (87 percent) while approving about 2,200. Of the approvals, just 549 saw their tariff breaks extended – and it is these 549 previously-extended product exclusions that are up for consideration and possible reinstatement.


[1] https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Notices/Section 301 China Request for Comments/Annex of Previously Extended Exclusions for Website.pdf.

[2] https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Notices/Section 301 China Request for Comments/Facsimile of Data Requested.pdf.

White House Chooses Exclusion of Silica-Based Products Produced Using Forced Labor, Impacting Solar PVs

By: Stacy J. Ettinger, Amy L. Groff, William D. Semins, Caitlin C. Blanche, Coleman Wombwell, Elizabeth C. Crouse

Today, the White House announced that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a withhold release order (the Order) on products manufactured using silica-based products produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., Ltd., and its subsidiaries (“Hoshine”), which are purportedly the world’s largest metallurgical-grade silicon producers. Hoshine has been linked to forced labor in the Xinjiang province of the People’s Republic of China (the PRC). The Order covers silica-based products and materials or goods derived from or produced using those silica-based products. Thus, CBP may use the Order to seize or exclude a variety of products, including solar photovoltaic panels.

Join Us: PV Magazine Webinar – Is your company capturing the 2020 safe harbor?

Join K&L Gates partner, Elias Hinckley, as he participates on a webinar with PV Magazine, “Is Your Company Capturing the 2020 Safe Harbor?”

­This webinar will discuss the current 26% solar investment tax credit that will be reduced by to 22% on January 1, 2021 and steps to take to ensure your project captures the full credit.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, 23 September, 2020, at 11:00 AM EDT.

For more information and to register, please click here.

U.S. ENERGY STORAGE ASSOCIATION RECOGNIZES K&L GATES WITH BRAD ROBERTS OUTSTANDING INDUSTRY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA), the national trade association for the American energy storage industry, will recognize K&L Gates with the Brad Roberts Outstanding Industry Achievement Award at the 2020 ESA Annual Awards taking place during the association’s virtual conference next week.

The award recognizes K&L Gates for “its tremendous contributions that have advanced the industry forward including nurturing early storage developers, hosting an annual conference, and developing the widely circulated Energy Storage Handbook.” The ESA determines this award by surveying its members and past award recipients each year to identify a member organization that has made significant contributions in the storage industry.  

Read more about the award in the ESA press release

K&L Gates Advises Unico Solar Investors on Commercial and Industrial Solar Projects Joint-Venture Partnership

Seattle – Global law firm K&L Gates LLP has advised solar energy systems developer Unico Solar Investors on a long-term joint-venture partnership with Excelsior Energy Capital, a leading independent North American renewable energy investor, to build, own, and operate a 250 MW pipeline of commercial and industrial solar projects across North America.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Unico Investment Group, Unico Solar will develop and manage the portfolio, which will consist of ground-mount, rooftop, and carport solar projects across multiple U.S. states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington, among others. The projects will provide clean electricity to a variety of customers, including commercial businesses, property owners, municipalities, educational institutions, utilities, and others, with construction expected to begin later this year.

The K&L Gates team that advised on the partnership was led by Seattle partner David Benson and included Seattle partner Elizabeth Crouse, Houston partner Edmundo de la Fuente, and Portland partner William Holmes, as well as Seattle associates Adam Heyd and Brad Lewis, Orange County associate Lana Le Hir, Houston associate Olivia Mora, and Boston associate Mike O’Neill.

Join Us: COVID-19: Renewable Energy – Global Post-COVID-19 Outlook

Join us on June 30, 2020 at 4:30pm EDT for a webinar on the Post-COVID-19 Outlook for renewable energy.

Emerging from the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, the renewables industry has experienced many positive and negative effects, from enormous job loss to valuable cost reductions, innovation in project development, and an uptick in storage contracts. However, there is still significant uncertainty about what a second wave of lock-downs may bring as well as the effect of the macroeconomic climate on investor appetite.

Our expert panel will share with you what they expect to see in the development and power markets worldwide as well as the hot new trends they see as helping the industry emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger and more resilient than ever.

Moderator:

Speakers:

For more information and to register, please click here.

Treasury Guidance Buoys Solar and Wind in 2020 and Beyond

By: Elizabeth C. Crouse

This afternoon, the Department of Treasury issued eagerly anticipated guidance extending the continuous construction/efforts test safe harbor to five years for wind, solar, and other tax credit projects that began construction in 2016 and 2017.

The extension applies for purposes of the Code Section 48 investment tax credit and the Code Section 45 production tax credit, and to projects that began construction under either the significant physical work test or the 5% safe harbor. Projects that began construction in 2016 now have through December 31, 2021 to be placed in service without proving continuous construction or continuous efforts. Projects that began construction in 2017 now have through December 31, 2022 to be placed in service for the same purpose. This extension is a boon to the industry, particularly the many wind projects that have experienced disrupted schedules due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Treasury also granted a boon to the solar industry in the same guidance by providing a generally applicable safe harbor for purposes of the 3.5 month test frequently used to safe harbor supplies procured in the last quarter of a calendar year. Specifically, Notice 2020-41 provides that if a taxpayer paid for any services or property paid on or before September 16, 2019 and the services or property are “actually received” by the taxpayer by October 15, 2020, the “taxpayer will be deemed to have had a reasonable expectation” of timely delivery for purposes of the 3.5 month test. This guidance follows months of efforts by participants across the wind and solar industries to obtain assurance that project delays would not negatively impact tax credit availability. By extending these tests, Treasury has provided significant comfort to many investors and ensured the continued advancement of the power industry and the thousands of jobs it provides to Americans across the country.

CLE Presentation: COVID-19: Perspectives for the “Next New Normal” for Renewable and Utility Companies

Join us on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, for a CLE presentation on “COVID-19: Perspectives for the “Next New Normal” for Renewable and Utility Companies.”

Companies are seeing unprecedented legal and business impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  These impacts are bringing about changes in strategy and how many companies approach their day-to-day business operations to adapt to this new business environment. This one-hour session will involve a presentation by the following K&L Gates attorneys sharing their perspectives on what to consider during the “next new normal.”

Moderator: 

Panelists:

This presentation will include the evolving legal and business impacts of COVID-19 in connection with:

  • Contract Issues
  • Insurance Issues
  • Potential Work Issues
  • Litigation Trends

This webinar will contain a chat feature in which you can submit questions so that we may tailor this presentation to address your concerns.

To register, please click here.

Join Us! Energy Storage Association Webinar: Energy Storage, Trade and China

Please join K&L Gates’ Elizabeth Crouse on the Energy Storage Association’s upcoming webinar, Energy Storage, Trade and China, on Thursday, May 21 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 CDT.

This webinar will explore the key trade and national security policies that currently impact the ESS market in the U.S. and assess their potential impacts on future deployments, including:

• How might regulatory developments under the Executive Order impact storage?
• What might the future hold for tariffs?
• How do these processes play out in an election year?

For more information and to register, please click here.

Treasury to Extend Deadlines for Accessing Wind, Solar Tax Credits

Author: Elizabeth Crouse

This afternoon, the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Treasury, issued a letter to Charles Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, indicating that Treasury intends to issue administrative relief to the solar and wind industries regarding certain investment tax credit (“ITC”) and production tax credit (“PTC”) deadlines. Although the letter does not provide any details as to the nature of this relief, Chairman Grassley’s April 23, 2020 letter to Treasury requested that the four-year safe harbor for the continuous construction and continuous efforts test for the PTC and ITC be extended to a five-year safe harbor period.

Chairman Grassley did not request administrative relief concerning the impact of COVID-19 related measures taken by manufacturers and shipping companies on a customer’s “reasonable expectation” that materials purchased in 2019 would be delivered within 3.5 months after payment. This latter provision is important for purposes for establishing beginning of construction of solar projects in 2019.

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