NextEra Energy (NEE -3.36%) is a global leader in renewable energy. It’s the world’s largest electricity producer from the wind and sun and has one of the industry’s biggest renewable energy development backlogs. It knows the headwinds and tailwinds facing the industry better than most.
One issue that has recently emerged is that the Commerce Department has initiated a review of solar panel suppliers from four Southeast Asian countries. The utility discussed how this situation would affect its renewable energy development plans on its first-quarter conference call.
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Assessing the solar situation
NextEra Energy’s CFO, Kirk Crews, provided investors with an overview of the issue on the call. He stated that: “Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated a review of antidumping and countervailing duty circumvention claim on solar cells and panels supplied from four Southeast Asian countries, which in recent years sourced over 80% of all solar panel imports into the United States.” He noted the company’s disappointment with this investigation, considering that the Commerce Department had already settled the issue in 2012. Further, later rulings in 2014, 2020, and 2021 provided consistent guidance with that decision. The solar energy industry has invested billions of dollars in developing new solar energy generating facilities in light of these rulings.
Crews concluded that:
If the Commerce Department were to find circumvention in the current investigation, we believe it would be unwinding a decade of consistent trade practice across the past three administrations, including the current administration just last year. We believe such a decision would create significant price uncertainty as additional tariffs on panels from the four Southeast Asian countries would likely remain unknown until close to 2025 as final tariff amounts are not determined for about two years after the year of importation.
For these and other reasons, the company is optimistic about a favorable outcome. Further, the company remains in an excellent position to manage the supply chain issues, given its scale. However, Crews warned that: “given that a number of suppliers are not expected to ship panels to the U.S. until the Commerce Department makes a preliminary determination as late as August, we continue to expect some of our solar and storage projects may be adversely …