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Trump Decision to End Solar-Trade Loophole Is Overturned by U.S. Court

Published 11/16/2021, 12:20 PM
Updated 11/16/2021, 12:36 PM
© Bloomberg. Photovoltaic panels at the North Palm Springs 1 solar field in Whitewater, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Communities from California to New England are at risk of power shortages this summer, with heat expected to strain electric grids that serve more than 40% of the U.S. population.

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. trade court has overturned a decision made last year by then-President Donald Trump to end a tariff exemption that benefited domestic solar developers.

The former president’s proclamation that closed a loophole for solar panels that generate power on both sides “constituted an action outside the President’s delegated authority,” U.S. Court of International Trade Judge Gary Katzmann said in a ruling Tuesday.

The ruling is a setback to solar manufacturers that have invested in domestic manufacturing after Trump imposed tariffs on imported equipment in 2018, but a win for U.S. developers that fought to restore the tariff exemption on two-sided, or bifacial, solar panels.

READ: Biden DOJ Says Trump ‘Lawfully’ Killed Solar-Tariff Loophole

The decision comes months after the trade court ruled Trump’s proclamation hadn’t violated an earlier order, effectively allowing his administration to end the exclusion. In December, a Washington-based solar-trade group and some developers challenged the proclamation, contending the administration “failed to follow the required procedures” before acting.

Trump originally approved four years of tariffs on solar equipment imports, starting at 30%. The administration later surprised many in the sector by granting an exclusion for bifacial panels. While they were considered niche products, the tariffs had encouraged some new solar manufacturing in the U.S., and module imports exempt from those duties posed a threat.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

© Bloomberg. Photovoltaic panels at the North Palm Springs 1 solar field in Whitewater, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Communities from California to New England are at risk of power shortages this summer, with heat expected to strain electric grids that serve more than 40% of the U.S. population.

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