DEPCOM wins custody of solar modules

In what has to be a relief to the solar modules valued at up to $1.6 million stranded in as many as 21 containers in the Port of Oakland, they can finally go home to the contractor who purchased them – DEPCOM Power.

The U.S. Court for the Northern District of California granted DEPCOM a “writ of possession” last week and confirmed arbitrator’s finding that DEPCOM was the rightful owner and entitled to take immediate possession of the modules in question

The dispute over the panels began last year when DEPCOM placed two orders with CSUN who, in this particular instance, acted as the distributor instead of the manufacturer of the modules.

To facilitate delivery of the modules, DEPCOM says it paid deposits to C-SUN of slightly more than $4.1 million.When CSUN failed to make delivery on the first shipment in November, DEPCOM cancelled the second purchase order and asked that its deposit be applied toward the first purchase order, which CSUN allegedly agreed to do.  As a result, DEPCOM claims that it is owed a approximately $1.5 million by CSUN.

CSUN eventually arranged for 21 containers of solar modules to be shipped to the Port of Oakland where, under the parties’ agreement, title passed to DEPCOM.  Even though DEPCOM owned title to the modules and had paid for them in full, CSUN refused to release them.  Five of the containers were allegedly sold to another buyer without DEPCOM’s consent.

DEPCOM initiated arbitration to recover the solar modules in the Port of Oakland and the outstanding money owed to it by C-SUN.  An emergency arbitrator ruled in DEPCOM’s favor finding that DEPCOM held title to the modules, had paid for them in full and was entitled to take immediate possession of them.

DEPCOM then filed suit in the Northern District of California to confirm the arbitrator’s award.  Over CSUN’s objection, the arbitrator’s award was confirmed and the U.S. Marshals were ordered to assist DEPCOM in taking possession of the modules remaining in the Port of Oakland.

Previous reporting by pv magazine indicated the courts had vacated the arbitrator’s decision and awarded possession of the modules back to C-SUN, who acted as the distributor for the transaction.

That reporting was mistaken and the prior article was withdrawn.