Last week, the U.S Department of Commerce announced that it was revising the definition of solar panels from China which are subject to countervailing and antidumping duties to exclude educational solar energy kits which had been lumped in with panels designed for industrial and other applications in a recent Order.

Earlier this month, the Commerce Department announced the preliminary results of an administrative review of countervailing and antidumping duties originally ordered in December 2012.  The Commerce Department began its initial investigation in November 2011 after it received a petition from U.S. solar cell manufacturers which suggested that solar cells imported from China were being sold at unfair value.  The investigation broadly examined crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, regardless of whether the cells had been assembled into modules, such as solar panels.  The initial investigation found evidence of improper subsidies and the December 2012 Orders imposed countervailing and antidumping duties against Chinese manufacturers.

In February 2017, members of the solar energy industry and other interested parties requested that the Commerce Department undertake an administrative review of the 2012 countervailing and antidumping Orders.  As a result of the administrative review, the Commerce Department announced countervailing duties of between approximately 11% and 14% against mandatory and non-selected Chinese companies.  In addition, the Commerce department announced preliminary antidumping margins of 61.61% against Trina Solar Energy based on an adverse inference resulting from Trina’s failure to provide necessary information.

Caught up among these industrial and mass market solar cell producers was Pitsco Inc., based in Pittsburg, Kansas. Pitsco produces small, low voltage solar cells in China for use in educational classroom science sets.  Accordingly, Pitsco filed a request for a changed circumstances review revocation pursuant to section 751(b)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930 and 19 CFR 351.216(b).  Notably, neither the lead petitioner nor any other entity opposed Pitsco’s request that its products be carved out of the countervailing and antidumping duty Orders.   Accordingly, the Commerce Department announced the Final Results of its Changed Circumstances Reviews, and Revocations of the Orders, in Part to reflect a particularized exclusion for solar cells of between approximately 5 and 50 square inches, with one black and one red wire of specified gauge and length, which do not exceed minimal voltage, amp, and wattage outputs, and not containing a battery or computer peripheral port.

Quite rightfully, this educational David was able to avoid the fight between international solar energy Goliaths.  Nevertheless, the labors undertaken to petition and develop appropriate and well-drafted exclusion language were necessary to bring about the result.