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September 01, 2020 1:41pm
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Wisconsin utility navigated tariff risks to complete 250 MW of solar projects

Wisconsin utility Alliant Energy chose to keep three solar projects on track despite the risk of new tariffs on modules imported from Southeast Asia.

Wisconsin utility Alliant Energy has energized three solar projects totaling 250 MWac.

The projects are part of Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint. Burns & McDonnell performed the engineering, procurement, and construction work on the projects, and will now move on to six additional solar projects within Alliant Energy’s blueprint. The Wood County (150 MWac), Bear Creek (50 MWac) a

Burns & McDonnell detailed challenges that faced the initial suite of projects, including the threat of additional tariffs on solar modules imported from Southeast Asia.

Last March, the Department of Commerce initiated an investigation into whether modules imported from four countries — Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam — were circumventing duties against China. The Auxin Solar tariff petition brought imports, and the broader solar industry, to a halt as buyers feared the potential of retroactive penalties.

To combat the risk, Alliant Energy moved forward with the projects.

Burns & McDonnell said the utility took “a series of proactive steps” including the procurement of 1.5 million bifacial modules in advance of a ruling in the tariff investigation. Trina Solar supplied the modules and was later identified by the Commerce Department as circumventing tariffs against China in its preliminary determination.

Last June, President Joe Biden announced a two-year pause on new tariffs against modules imported from Southeast Asia. The Commerce Department, meanwhile, has said tariffs would not be retroactive.

The Factor This! podcast broke down all angles of the Auxin Solar tariff petition in a four-part series, which included an exclusive interview with Auxin Solar CEO Mamun Rashid. Subscribe today wherever you get your podcasts.

Pt. 1: Who is Auxin Solar? An exclusive interview with the CEO behind the bitter solar tariff fight

Pt. 2: Inside the solar industry’s $5 million fight against new tariffs

Pt. 3: Rebuilding domestic solar supply chains will hinge on incentives, not tariffs, experts say

Pt. 4: How the solar industry swayed Biden on import tariffs

Update: Commerce Department issues a preliminary determination in the Auxin Solar case

Burns & McDonnell has now mobilized on six additional solar sites included in Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint.

When complete, the nine solar facilities will span nearly 5,000 acres and add 664 MWac in total solar capacity to the regional grid. Over the duration of the program, more than 600 Burns & McDonnell employee-owners and approximately 870 crafts and trades are expected to be deployed to the project sites.

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