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COVID-19 Resources for Solar Professionals

As we continue to navigate the evolving situation caused by COVID-19, ISEA is working to provide resources that our members need to manage their business interests. Included below are links to state resources and, importantly, an assessment of the new Federal CARES legislation & other Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner COVID-19 resources. Many thanks to Bryan Kyte and the team at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner for this timely update!

As was outlined in the member call at the end of March, each company needs to make their own determination if they consider themselves an essential business under the state Executive order. DECO has also developed a guidance document on Essential Business to help with that determination.

We have appreciated hearing from ISEA members as to their decision whether or not to continue to install. This decision is not an easy one and it appears that these choices are also continuing to evolve. At this time there are solar businesses that have chosen to sit it out and others that are working to identify best practices as to how to protect their customers and, very importantly, their employees. Some tactics that have been identified are:

·        No or very limited customer in person interaction

·        Strict adherence to the 6 ft recommended social distance

·        Smaller crews

·        Staggered start times

·        One person to a vehicle

·        Portable handwashing stations

·        Providing protective gear as available and appropriate to install teams

·        Cleaning equipment frequently

ISEA is interested in learning more about what member businesses are choosing to do regarding installations and, if you are planning on continuing to install, what protections you are employing. Please feel free to respond via email or reach out by phone.

If you have not filled out the ISEA COVID-19 survey or have additional information to share, please take the time to do so.

Illinois Resources

Federal Resources

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) provides the below Information about important federal programs) resources related to Covid-19 which may be helpful or relevant to businesses in the solar industry including sole proprietors, independent contractors and  501(c)(3) entities: an overview of the Federal Relief Legislation signed into law on Friday. Many solar energy industry businesses will likely qualify to take advantage of grants and loans available under the new federal CARES  legislation described below which provides eligible  businesses con funding available to pay essential costs including payroll, rent, utilities and other qualified costs, with goal of keeping people employed and businesses operational

I.          New Federal CARES legislation:

With respect to the new CARES legislation, please see (1) our general summary overview available at the following link:  (https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/thought-leadership/what-businesses-and-lenders-need-to-know-about-the-cares-act-sba-lending-and-loan-forgiveness.html); (2) the attached Chamber of Commerce Overview of the Small Business Emergency Loan Program; and (3) Small Business Owner’s Guide (attached). These resources will help small and medium size business understand how the program works and generally describes who is eligible. 

A key feature of the CARES legislation is that $350 billion is being made available to eligible small and mid-size businesses via the SBA Section 7(a) program.  The SBA program is  the vehicle being used to help disburse the money quickly and efficiently (not all traditional SBA loan requirements will apply).  Eligible companies must have 500 or fewer employees and otherwise meet various other requirements generally described in our Client Alert linked above and the Chamber of Commerce summary. If an eligible business is able to point to an impact on its business from COVID-19 (i.e., must make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19), then the eligible business should be able to apply for  these 7(a) loans to provide working capital for the business to retain workers  and pay certain other operating costs – including payroll (can include commissions), interest on mortgage debt, pay utilities, health insurance, etc.  Money used for these purposes during an 8 week period following origination of the loan will be forgiven – this portion actually ends up being a grant, not a loan.  Money used for other purposes or used outside of the 8 week period will need to be repaid over a 10 year period (no interest for first 6 months, max of 4% thereafter).   The maximum any company is eligible to receive is $10 million through 12/31/20, but there is a formula to determine the eligible loan amount.  It is based on average monthly payroll expenses (subject to per employee caps) multiplied times 2.5.   So, in a simple illustration, if an eligible company has 20 employees each making $60,000 annually, the monthly payroll expense would be 20 x $5,000 = $100,000, then multiply that by 2.5 and the company could be eligible for a $250,000 loan subject to forgiveness opportunities.  There is an 8 week period after loan origination during  which the company may then incur certain qualified expenses (e.g., payroll, rent – idea is to incentivize businesses to retain employees during this time) which are directly applied against the loan and forgiven under the CARES program.  Any loan amounts that are not forgiven are then interest free for 6 months and subject to a 10 year term with maximum interest rate of 4%. The government is developing new regulations which are expected to be issued within the next 7 to 10 days which will provide greater clarity on the exact amounts available for loans and grants.  We are encouraging eligible businesses to commence the loan application process as soon as possible.

If you are in the clean energy industry and need assistance applying for CARES Act funding, the Environmental Advocacy Center at the Bluhm Legal Clinic is available to assist a limited number of applicants at no cost. Please email cary.shepherd@law.northwestern.edu to request assistance. Read more here.

Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration has additional resources and information available at www.sba.gov. 

OTHER BCLP COVID-19 RESOURCES

As you may already know, there are many changes in laws, regulations, government orders and other programs being implemented by federal, state and local authorities.  Our firm is tracking these changes on a national and global level and the speed of the changes is quite rapid.  We are posting new materials daily to our Covid-19 resource center which can be accessed at:  Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Some specific resources I would like to highlight for you: 

·       Force Majeure:  A summary of US force majeure law:  https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/thought-leadership/force-majeure-and-covid-19-considerations-for-businesses-in-the-us.html We have completed a 50-State survey of Force Majeure law which we are using to advise clients on a variety of matters

·        Extension of Federal Tax Deadline:  COVID-19 Update – Due Date Not Extended for Federal Information Returns: https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/thought-leadership/covid-19-update-due-date-not-extended-for-federal-information-returns.html

·       Insurance:  Primer on Insurance Coverage for Covid-19 (attached).  Our insurance team is reviewing policies for clients at a fixed fee. 

·        Real Estate and Rent Relief:  See attached BCLP News Alert regarding Commercial Lease Obligations. We are advising clients regarding strategies for maximizing rent relief and benefits under CARES loan/grant program.

·        Employment: Employment and human resource issues are front and center for our clients.  Attached is a “Coronavirus (Covid 19) Guidance” that provides some questions and answers to many of the common questions being asked.  Here are some other employment-related materials which may be helpful:  Paid Sick LeaveEmergency FMLA Changes

·       Lockdowns/Shelter In Place/ What is an Essential Business?:  We are monitoring these orders and advising clients on whether they are authorized to operate as an “essential business” on a national and global basis.  Here is a link to a webinar we hosted on the topic:  https://www.bclplaw.com/en-US/news-events/covid-19-in-19-shut-down-shelter-in-place-and-defining-essential-business.html

·        BCLP Coronavirus Thought Leadership Generally – This is a link to our Covid-19 resources on our website.


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