This is your SolarWakeup for October 12th, 2017

Tomorrow I will be announcing the final two speakers for SolarWakeup Live! Boston. The lineup is sure to give you the news about the MA solar market you need to know.

ITC Remedy Process Update, Filings Are In. Public versions of the post-hearing briefs were due yesterday afternoon. Most are in except for the SolarWorld public version, which will likely be uploaded sometime today. Limited surprises except for new filings from First Solar and Tesla, comments below. They’re long and mostly boring. The Q&A offers the most detail but again sticks to talking points.

Key Things About The Case. Rules require that any remedy must provide greater economic and social benefit than costs. Commissioners can propose their own remedy or multiple remedies which are voted on 10/31. Final decision rests with the President who can approve, deny or propose his own remedy, therefore we know nothing until he speaks or tweets his decision.

Suniva Goes With Fake News. In responding to SEIA’s testimony and filings, Suniva goes with “it’s not true.” That was the response in the first two points. Going issue by issue, Suniva sticks to their points that the US industry has been injured and needs relief. Suniva argues that Commissioners should ignore the job losses to the solar industry since the losses are “repercussions on those who benefitted from the assault (e.g. those who had access to historically cheap modules).” In short, Suniva is calling all investors, developers and racking manufacturers accessories in an assault on them.

SEIA Asks, How Do Petitioners Get Back On Top? The most contentious part of the hearing was when the commissioners asked Suniva and SolarWorld for an adjustment plan which is supposed to be issued. Without this, Commissioners cannot analyze how a remedy would leave the petitioners in a healthy state after the 4 year period. Moreover, Commissioners need to ask how the rest of the industry would fare if there is not enough access to cells and modules for the US market.

First Solar Goes All In, For Suniva & SolarWorld. First Solar has let the news speak for them, mainly letting the message be framed that tariffs would be good for them since they are excluded. During their Q1 and Q2 earnings calls, they spoke vaguely about their position on the case and have stayed quiet on their involvement (if any) or communication (if any) with the petitioners. They are excluded since the petition is exlusively for crystalline PV products. Now they go all in for relief on the industry, my guess because their stock has been moving up when votes at the ITC go in the petitioner’s favor. No comment from First Solar on what remedy they want or if they support the minimum price and import quotas. Instead they say they support “fair and effective” remedies.

SunPower Stays On Message, Asks For Help. SunPower has been a vocal supporter of SEIA in this case and having CEO Tom Werner speak at the hearings. In addition to supporting the SEIA filings, SunPower also filed their own response, for the purpose of asking for an exclusion to the tariff. With a self-described differentiated technology, SunPower states that their high efficiency creates a higher tariff for higher efficiency modules and since they sell a different technology would seek to be excluded from the case. Other unique products like Goal Zero also asked for exclusion from the remedy.

No Love For 8Point3 Partners. Mostly done without calling the other party out by name, SunPower and First Solar are clearly on opposite sides here. SunPower devotes an entire section outlining the quasi-monopoly that the ITC would create for First Solar with an exclusion for thin film modules. In some language, SunPower calls it an unjust enrichment.

Tesla Wants A Rising Tide, And Some Cells. I was hoping Tesla would comment in post-hearing briefs and they did. The company wrote a thorough brief on why the remedy is bad for solar even though Tesla is on the path for vertical integration and is building US cell and module manufacturing with Panasonic. They give good data on how long it takes to build a plant and the cost associated with it. It does appear that Tesla will need to import cells which defines a clear gap in US supply chain if ITC adopts the petitioners remedy. In short, Tesla would have the largest capacity in the US in short order and would benefit if remedy is issued but sees a rising tide lifting all of solar. Thank you.

The Deal Moving Towards 72-Cell Modules.  A deal has been floating and the undertone is in the filings. Developers like NextEra and 8Minute push for an exclusion for 72 cell modules for utility scale markets because neither Suniva or SolarWorld make their market here. They likely don’t want to have to negotiate with First Solar in a position of strength either. The argument is that 72 cell modules make up a separate market from the one that Suniva and SolarWorld serve, residential and C&I, and since they cannot show how they were hurt by the utility scale market it should be exempt. The deal that some are pushing for would have the remedy only placed on 60 cell modules and leave the price sensitive market of utility scale as is with current AD/CVD tariffs in place.


Have a great day!