Biden administration ends solar tariff exemption

The Biden administration is ending a key exemption that allowed solar panel imports to evade tariffs. 

The administration is announcing on Thursday that it’s ending an exemption to import tariffs for solar panels that are double-sided, noting that since the exception was implemented, nearly all solar panel imports have been two sided. 

The move comes just one day after the administration doubled tariffs on solar panel imports. The moves come as part of an effort to demonstrate support for U.S. manufacturing and parry Republican criticism of its climate agenda. 

White House Advisor Ali Zaidi, however, sought to strike a balance in his remarks announcing the action — arguing that a secure supply chain is ultimately beneficial to the planet.

“Supply chain risk is climate risk,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve seen this as concentrated or vulnerable supply chains inhibit deployment. They slow us down as we chase after emissions reductions in this decisive decade for climate action.”

The double-sided exemption was previously implemented under the Trump administration in 2019, later removed by the Trump administration and reinstated by the Biden administration in 2022. 

The Biden administration is also announcing on Thursday that it would carry out a previous plan to end its two-year delay of solar tariffs on imports from Southeast Asia. Starting June 6, solar imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam will be subject to tariffs. 

Meanwhile, the administration is also seeking to make it easier to produce renewable energy domestically, giving manufacturers some leeway on achieving tax credits.

Under the law, renewable projects can receive a “bonus” tax credit if a certain percentage of their components are made in the U.S. However, some companies have had difficulty getting information on the sources of the materials used in their parts. 

As a result, the administration will allow them to use “default” numbers from the federal government to establish whether they qualify for the bonus instead of needing to get information from their suppliers. 

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