Sunrise brief: Congress urges Border Patrol action on forced labor allegations



Members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter urging customs officials to “immediately take aggressive enforcement actions” regarding polysilicon products entering the United States from Xinjiang, China.

The letter to acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Troy Miller was dated June 10 and was signed by two dozen members of the congressional tax writing committee.

The letter complained that the agency has been slow in following up on forced labor allegations and “has yet to take a single enforcement action.” The letter said that customs officials had received allegations in late 2020 and suggested “imminent enforcement action” three months ago. “We believe it is time to act,” the letter said.

The letter said that enough evidence exists to trigger action under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1307). It called on the customs agency to take “strong action.” Section 307 bars the importation of goods made by convict labor or forced labor.

AES eyes New York solar project

The site of a former coal plant in New York State could host a 140-200 MW solar array under plans being floated by Applied Energy Services (AES).

The project was first proposed by sPower, which AES acquired in late 2020. Land for the project would be leased from Beowulf Energy.

The project would be reviewed by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) committee under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, or 94-c, which was passed as a part of the 2020-21 state budget.

Local reports said that approval could come in late 2022 with construction taking place during most of 2023. The project could have an in-service date in 2024.

AES has invested about $2 million into the project, including legal work and engineering, and is investigating the possibility of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement. During its operation, the coal plant where AES intends to build operated under a similar an agreement.

Greenbacker adds to its solar portfolio

A unit of Greenbacker Renewable Energy bought the 20-MW West River portfolio of pre-operational solar projects from Energy of Utah.

The projects include West River Solar and West River Solar II and have a long-term Power Purchase Agreement with Basin Electric Power.

Both projects are located in Pennington County, South Dakota, home to Mount Rushmore. The projects are near Fall River Solar, an 80 MW solar project Greenbacker bought in late 2020 from the same developer. The West River portfolio is expected to reach commercial operations in December 2022.

With the acquisition, Greenbacker will own around 1.12 GW of generating capacity, including 853.6 MW of utility-scale and distributed solar facilities, 242.6 MW of wind facilities, 16 MW of battery storage, and 12 MW of biomass facilities.

Sunnova prices securitization

Sunnova Energy International priced its latest securitization of leases and power purchases agreements. The single-tranche securitization consists of $319.0 million in A- (sf) rated 2.58% notes at a 76.4% advance rate, representing a spread to the benchmark swap rate of 140 bps. The A- rated notes carry a weighted average life of approximately 7.46 years through the Anticipated Repayment Date of April 30, 2031 and have a final maturity of April 28, 2056.

The notes are backed by a portfolio of more than 20,900 solar rooftop systems distributed across 18 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Northern Mariana Islands. The weighted average customer FICO score of the customers is around 740. Sunnova said it intends to use the proceeds from the sale to repay financing arrangements of its business units. The transaction is expected to close by June 17, subject to closing conditions.

China to end solar subsidies

Quoting state planners, Reuters said that China will no longer grant subsidies for new solar power stations, distributed solar projects by commercial users, or onshore wind projects from the central government budget in 2021.

Electricity generated from the new projects will be sold at local benchmark coal-fired power prices or at market prices, the government statement said. The new rule will take effective August 1.

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