US EPA Administrator McCarty urges states to adopt carbon-cutting investment strategy

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 16, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

POLICY:

EPA’s McCarthy pushes states to adopt carbon-cutting ‘investment strategy’

Edward Klump, E&E reporter
DALLAS — Gina McCarthy, the administrator of U.S. EPA, appeared at a meeting of state regulators to provide what she called a “signal.”"Our energy world is changing, and really the key opportunity here is to embrace a direction that’s good and available and reliable and responsible and affordable for each state,” McCarthy said, “and to figure out how you can achieve these carbon pollution reductions in a way that’s moving in that same direction.”

Her comments yesterday before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, or NARUC, were brief — less than 30 minutes, including questions. But in what at times came across as barnstorming in the oil industry’s backyard, McCarthy described the thinking behind EPA’s plan to slash carbon emissions at power plants. Then President Obama’s top environmental regulator pressed for action by the states, as regulators consider the approach they’ll take to meet federal emissions targets.

“We really wanted this to be an opportunity to look at a short- and long-term investment strategy, not a pollution control strategy,” McCarthy said. Carbon pollution, she said, “can be reduced in the electricity sector in ways that are very far from pollution control technologies.”

EPA’s Clean Power Plan released last month aims to cut carbon emissions at power plants 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Targets vary by state. And the proposal has been a major theme at NARUC’s summer meetings, as the cost of implementation and electric reliability dominated those discussions.

In her talk, McCarthy said the agency is open for state-by-state discussions about how to best implement the administration’s signature plan for addressing climate change, a patchwork of emissions-reduction targets and enforcement mechanisms the White House wants on the books before leaving office. Some of the usual options for slashing power plant emissions are on the table, McCarthy noted, including using highly efficient coal plants and expanding the use of renewable energy and gas.

“There is nothing that we have heard so far that would indicate that flexibility should not continue and isn’t the best approach moving forward,” she said.

Presidential priority

On Sunday, a chief economist for grid operator PJM Interconnection LLC suggested that too much flexibility could work against the proposal, in part because states could find themselves working at cross-purposes depending on how they develop their plans (EnergyWire, July 14).

When asked about that yesterday in a briefing with reporters, McCarthy said PJM probably would like for entities it deals with to work together in some way.

Obama considers carbon to be an “incredibly important rulemaking process,” she added, and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act seems to be a “very good one” for the agency’s carbon plan. A 120-day comment period is underway, and McCarthy called for parties to get their comments in early — especially if they think EPA “missed the boat” in terms of data or framing of issues.

“The earlier you say that, the more we can figure out whether that boat is in the right direction or whether it’s sinking and what we need to do to shore it up,” she said.

The administrator drew a number of questions from commissioners, including from New Jersey’s Jeanne Fox, who asked about possible regional approaches. “There is a tremendous opportunity for states to work together, and in some ways it would be tremendously beneficial, especially when you’re dealing with renewable energy,” McCarthy said.

Another attendee asked about potential enforcement of the plan. McCarthy said it is “a real and federally enforceable program.” The more states step up, the more will be understood about how to work in a partnership, she said.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody that this is the Clean Air Act and we can enforce the requirements and we fully intend to,” McCarthy said.

Robert Kenney, who chairs the Missouri Public Service Commission, asked about alternative modeling and what happens if the cost isn’t found to be reasonable.

McCarthy said the goal was to be reasonable and appropriate but said it’s important for states to look at the underlying analysis behind the numbers. Electric reliability and affordability in the power sector won’t be compromised, she said.

“If states really look at this as investment opportunities, they’re going to find themselves surging past that 2030 endpoint,” she said.

‘Let’s just keep working together’

Earlier yesterday, Lynn Good, CEO of Duke Energy Corp., pressed the issue of electric reliability as it ties into future regulations — an issue of both substance and politics. Good, who runs one of the largest coal plant fleets in the country and has been under fire for her handling of coal ash disposal in North Carolina, pressed executives to consider the costs.

“We need to keep our eye, as we transform, on reliability, we need to keep our eye on costs, and we need to constantly challenge ourselves,” Good said.

Cheryl LaFleur, acting chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, urged the industry to consider more investment in natural gas pipelines, electric transmission and technology. Gas is expected to be the source of more electricity, as aging coal plants are retired by utilities like Duke.

“I think what it will require is a tremendous amount of coordination between the federal government and the states, between different federal agencies, between different sectors,” she said.

Donna Nelson, the chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said she was concerned that EPA was unintentionally punishing states that were early movers, noting the state’s wind energy growth. McCarthy told reporters that states that have shown leadership are getting credit. EPA’s relationship with Texas is “healthy,” she said, despite tension over approaches to clean-air regulations.

In an interview, Nelson said McCarthy showed good faith by visiting the Dallas meeting. But Nelson said she remained concerned about Texas’ ability to meet the carbon standard. She said a workshop is planned for August to discuss the issue, which she said could have implications for how generation is dispatched in Texas’ competitive market.

Nelson said it would be great to file comments early but said that might be difficult, “just given the breadth and depth of the rule and the length of it and the due diligence we have to do.” She said she’s not sure if comments would be filed or if the proposal would be challenged.

While some issues have been raised about an approaching 2020 time frame when the carbon plan would begin to phase in, McCarthy told NARUC attendees that states can find paths forward.

“Let’s just keep working together,” she said. “I think planning is crucial. I am here because the energy world is vital in this discussion. You can help provide an opportunity to bridge what I’ve always seen as a gap at [the] state and local level between environment and energy regulators in their lack of understanding of what one another does.”

Twitter: @edward_klump | Email: eklump@eenews.net

IURC IRP Contemporary Issues Technical Conference is 10/23/14; Request for topics and speakers by 8/8/14

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 14, 2014  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

2014 INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLANNING (IRP) 

The IRP Contemporary Issues Technical Conference is scheduled for Thursday, October 23, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., in Conference Room B, Indiana Government Center South.  Note that this is a different room from where the technical conference was held last fall.  Please provide suggested topics to be included on the agenda and possible speakers by Friday, August 8, 2014 – see info below.

As you are aware, the IRP rulemaking is currently on hold due to the rulemaking moratorium.  We have appreciated the efforts of Indiana utilities to comply with the draft Proposed Rule, even though it is not yet in effect.  To that end, Duke, I&M, IMPA, and WVPA filed IRPs in 2013 with Duke and I&M holding advisory stakeholder meetings that spring and summer.  Under the draft Proposed Rule IRPs are to be filed in 2014 by Hoosier Energy, IPL, NIPSCO, SIGECO/Vectren.  As a result, the three investor-owned utilities have been holding advisory stakeholder meetings in preparation for their filings this fall.

In keeping with the spirit of compliance with the draft Proposed Rule, and pursuant to Section 2.2 of that rule, the IURC and its staff will be hosting the second annual technical conference to help identify contemporary issues and encourage the identification and adoption of best practices.  The agenda of the technical conference will be set by the commission staff with input from interested parties and utilities.  We look forward to receiving your suggestions of specific contemporary issues for the agenda and possible speakers.

To refresh your memory, here is the list of speakers and a general description of their topic from last year’s Contemporary Issues meeting:

1.       Eric Hughes – Ventyx

Mr. Hughes will discuss production cost modeling and the different methods for dispatching the resources including examples of how each method works.  He will also briefly discuss resource optimization methodologies before discussing DSM modeling and problems with traditional DSM modeling as done by DSM planners/consultants and the resulting output data relative to the needs of a production costing/resource planning model.

 

2.       Ronald Whitfield, Ph.D. – Argonne National Laboratory

Dr. Whitfield discussed the treatment of risk and uncertainty in integrated resource planning.

3.       Jeremy Fisher, Ph.D. – Synapse Energy Economics

Dr. Fisher discussed a stakeholder’s perspective on effective IRP collaboration and execution of best practices, as well as mechanisms to anticipate and address stakeholder concerns.

4.       Ethan Rogers, CEM – American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

Mr. Rogers discussed the inclusion of energy efficiency, the lowest cost energy resource, in resource planning which is an emerging practice that has the ability to reduce the amount of capital investment needed to guarantee sufficient capacity to meet future system requirements. Mr. Rogers also discussed existing practices in different parts of the country and how they might be of value in Indiana.

 

The presentations for the 2013 Contemporary Issues meeting can be found on the Electricity Division portion of the Commission’s website at:http://www.in.gov/iurc/2773.htm

 

A good place for potential agenda ideas might be the Electricity Division Director Final Report on the four 2013 IRPs prepared pursuant to the draft IRP rule.  The report can also be found on the Commission website at: http://www.in.gov/iurc/2630.htm

 

To jump start the discussion of potential agenda items, staff puts forward the following for your consideration:

 

1.       Given the reliability, resiliency, and economic ramifications, can energy efficiency, demand response, and various other types of customer-owned resources be evaluated in a manner that is comparable to conventional generating resources?  How can changes due to energy efficiency be distinguished from increased appliance / end-use standards, building codes, and reduced waste?  How can persistence of energy efficiency be better assessed?

2.       Given the potential ramifications of environmental regulations, the forecast for relatively low gas prices, the age of the existing generating fleet, what are the best practices for evaluating / incorporating reliability, resilience, and economic risks in Integrated Resource Planning for  both the short and longer-term?  To what extent (or weight) should high value but low probability events such as repetitions of Super Storm Sandy, the Polar Vortex, a protracted heat wave & drought over a broad region be considered in risk analysis?

3.       A discussion of the next generation of state-of-the-art tools and processes used in load forecasting (including forecasting DSM / DR and customer-owned resources) and other aspects of long-term resource planning to better address the implications of potentially significant changes in the Nation’s resource mix. What load forecasting method(s) are likely to foster a more in-depth understanding of the important drivers of a load forecast? What information is needed to support new forecasting and planning processes and tools?  With the increasing deployment of smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure, should this spur development of better tools and processes?  Are there opportunities for Indiana utilities to work together to construct and maintain a more comprehensive load and resource database and to do so at a lower cost with greater robustness / reliability / confidence?

 

The next IRP Contemporary Issues technical conference is scheduled for Thursday, October 23, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., in Conference Room B, Indiana Government Center South.  Note that this is a different room from where the technical conference was held last fall.

 

Please provide suggested topics to be included on the agenda and possible speakers by Friday, August 8, 2014.  If you think one or more of the topics listed above has merit, please recommend a speaker.  The suggestions can be sent by regular mail or e-mail to:

 

Bradley Borum

Director of Electricity

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

101 West Washington Street, Suite 1500 E.

Indianapolis, IN 46204-3407

 

e-mail: bborum@urc.in.gov

 

Thank you for your interest and continued participation!

 

 

Beth Krogel Roads

General Counsel

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

101 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 East

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Direct line: (317) 232-2092

Fax #: (317) 232-6758

Email: bkroads@urc.in.gov

Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of Eagle Point Solar and third party solar PV PPAs

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 14, 2014  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of third party solar

Posted on  by 

Rooftop solar panels, photo via Creative Commons.

Rooftop solar panels, photo via Creative Commons.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled July 11 that a solar installation atop a municipal services center in Dubuque does not violate Iowa law, a decision experts called potentially ground-breaking for the spread of rooftop solar power.

“This is a great win for Iowa,” said Brad Klein, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) who represented a collective of renewable energy advocates from Iowa and across the country. Given the thoroughness of court’s decision, and the lack of any other high court rulings in this arena, Klein said he expects the Iowa court’s ruling to be “very influential” in future legal decisions nationwide, as well as “a great guidepost for conversation across the country.”

Joe Bolkcom, an Iowa state senator who has worked hard to advance renewable energy, called the ruling “a very positive decision for the advancement of solar in Iowa. I hope it provides a rationale for the Iowa Utilities Board to make some good decisions about distributed generation.”

The board early this year solicited feedback about the future of rooftop solar and other forms of distributed renewable energy. It recently requested additional comments, and now is mulling over its next move.

Policy implications

Bolkcom predicted that today’s ruling could encourage Iowa legislators to take a more supportive position towards renewable energy.

“If there’s more deployment of solar in Iowa, [legislators] are going to be more inclined to make policy that advances distributed generation,” he said.

Eagle Point Solar, based in Dubuque, installed a 175-kilowatt system on top of the Dubuque city building in 2011. Alliant Energy, the electric utility that serves the city, appealed to Dubuque’s city council, then to the state’s utility regulator, claiming that the project would violate the law. Alliant argued that Eagle Point would be functioning as a utility, and thus impinging on the utility’s legal monopoly over electrical service in Dubuque.

The Iowa Utilities Board ruled that Eagle Point was, in fact, functioning as an illegal utility. The ELPC  and other renewables advocates appealed to the Polk County District Court, which in 2013 reversed the regulator’s ruling. The Iowa Supreme Court then opted to review the case.

Eagle Point’s president and CEO, Barry Shear, was busy hosting out-of-town visitors on Friday. He found just enough time to say, “There’s nothing not to like about this ruling unless you’re a coal miner in Virginia or a utility in Iowa.”

Third party financing

The case basically turned on a funding mechanism known as third party financing. It allows a party other than the solar installer or provider to finance, own and operate a solar installation on another entity’s property, providing energy to the property through a power purchase agreement.

Entities without any tax liability – governments, non-profit institutions, some hospitals and schools, for example – cannot collect tax credits for renewable energy. Hence such third party power purchase agreements are often crucial to making the finances of rooftop solar work.

Meanwhile even many people or institutions who can collect tax credits have trouble coming up with capital to install solar panels. Tim Dwight, a solar developer in Iowa, said that the typical residential solar installation now costs in the neighborhood of $16,000. Although almost half of that could be covered by the federal and Iowa state government credits, the remaining funds can be a barrier for homeowners or business owners; and banks are often reluctant to make loans for solar installations. Hence third party financing can be crucial for a wide range of solar and other renewable applications.

Dwight predicted that today’s ruling will help turn small-scale renewable energy projects into an attractive investment opportunity for insurance companies, banks and even individual investors.

Klein predicted that the court ruling “will open up [solar] to a broader set of Iowans. It’s been very successful in opening up solar in other states. I think this is one of those baseline policies that lays the ground for solar growth.”

The big picture

The ruling came on the heels of a recent tripling of the state’s renewables tax credit; and renewable advocates also hope the utility board’s ongoing inquiry into distributed generation will yield positive results.

“All of these things collectively in Iowa are going to give the industry the boost it needs,” said Klein. “We expect great things in Iowa.”

Officials at Alliant Energy, which has lost nearly 600,000 kilowatt hours in sales to the City of Dubuque since the solar panels started producing in 2012, have mixed feelings about today’s ruling, according to spokesman Justin Foss. “It’s been painted that this is a fight between the utility and renewable energy,” he said. “It’s anything but the truth.”

Foss said Alliant maintains “unwavering” support for renewables, and for integrating them into the utility’s distribution system.  There are now about 670 renewable energy generators on Alliant’s system in Iowa, “and more people asking to connect to the grid every day,” Foss said. He added that customers will still be reliant on power provided by Alliant when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

“We have a financing model that hasn’t changed,” he said. “If nobody’s buying energy, in the middle of the night, there’s no one to pay for the power plant. We have two sets of generation. The problem is, there are lots of costs involved. What wi

ll be the impact on our customers? And how will this affect their costs?”

Klein acknowledged that the growth of distributed generation raises tough issues for utilities.

“One of the important aspects of the case is that it says that the purpose of utility regulation is to protect the public, not the utility industry,” he said. Generating one’s own power “behind the meter” — meaning it doesn’t move through a utility’s distribution system – is a private transaction and should not be subject to interference by a utility, Klein said.

Even so, he said this ruling clarifies the need for utilities and the renewable energy advocates to collaborate.

“We can’t have policies that single out customer generation and try to kill it,” Klein said.

On the East Coast, he added, “There are conversations beginning on how the electric utility industry transitions to a system that’s more decentralized. We want to see these conversations happen in Iowa and the Midwest. We want to work with Alliant on approaches that are win-win.”

How Indianapolis (of All Places) Became a Solar Powerhouse; HINT: It’s the voluntary feed-in tariff or VFIT.

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 12, 2014  /   Posted in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, solar  /   No Comments

How Indianapolis (of All Places) Became a Solar Powerhouse

By PETE DANKO on July 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM

IMS-aerial

Photo Credit: SunWize Technologies

There’s an unlikely name among the usual suspects that populate a recently released list [PDF] of leading U.S. solar cities. There’s Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, San Jose, Honolulu, San Antonio and then … Indianapolis?

Yep. And the city just got even more solar, with the official opening last week of a 9 megawatt array on a patch of land adjacent to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The speedway said it’s the “largest solar farm at any sporting facility in the world.”

A lot of factors can drive solar adoption. A state portfolio standard requiring utilities to source renewables is one of the most common. High electricity prices can help, too, by making relatively expensive renewables more attractive. And while Germany has proven that it’s not required, above average sunshine, which boosts capacity factors, can also play a role, as the list of leading cities suggests.

But Indianapolis has none of those things going for it. Not really. In 2011, Indiana did enact something called the Clean Energy Portfolio Standard, but its call for 10 percent renewables by 2025 is modest (California is targeting 33 percent by 2020). Besides, it’s voluntary. As for electricity prices, Indiana’s, at 11.91 cents per kilowatt-hour, are about a half-cent below the national average, according to the most recent data. And central Indiana is not particularly sunny, but you knew that.

So what brought Indianapolis into the solar big-time? Simple: A generous feed-in tariff offered by the local utility company, Indianapolis Power & Light, a subsidiary of AES Corporation that serves some 470,000 customers in and around Indiana’s capital city. And as Laura Arnold, president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance pointed out in an interview, “The most remarkable thing is, IPL did it voluntarily.”

98th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

IPL surfaced the program in December 2008, in the wake of President Obama’s first election win. In early 2010, a three-year pilot program offering 24 cents per kilowatt-hour to facilities between 20 and 100 kilowatts in size, and 20 cents/kWh for bigger installations, was approved by regulators. The queue for the approximately 100 megawatts of solar up for grabs – equal to about 1 percent of IPL’s retail electricity sales – filled up. But as often happens with proposed projects, actual construction was slower to follow. IPL and regulators also found themselves working through technical issues in implementing the program.

Arnold and other solar supporters last year expressed fear that, with the program closed to new projects, some of the unbuilt projects might fail to be built, leaving a long line of viable projects that didn’t make it into the queue out in the cold. But a tally recently provided to Arnold by IPL showed that as of the end of May, more 53.4 MW was operating under Rate REP, and another 12.3 was under construction. In an email, IPL spokeswoman  Brandi Davis-Handy said no projects had fallen through, and that “IPL still expects the remainder of the projects to be completed by the end of 2014.”

Along with the big Speedway project, the IPL feed-in tariff has yielded a couple of other landmark solar installations: the first utility-scale farm on a Superfund site, and the nation’s largest airport-located installation, at Indianapolis International.

Assuming the remaining 33 megawatts of solar on the Rate REP list get built, Indianapolis should maintain its spot among top solar cities for at least another year. But what happens thereafter is uncertain. Solar advocates would love to see IPL revive the feed-in tariff, and are hopeful that proposed federal carbon emissions reductions – though fairly modest for coal-friendly Indiana – might be an inducement.

For its part, IPL isn’t committing to anything. However, the company did make an interesting discovery as it worked through the bumpy process of implementing the feed-in tariff. For complicated reasons, it ended up holding a reverse auction for 30 megawatts in the program. That process revealed that developers, with the cost of solar falling, were willing to build at a far lower guaranteed price for their power – around 10 cents/kWh – than the program originally offered.

“The reverse auction demonstrated the pricing dynamics and would be a better vehicle than a standing offer,” Davis-Handy said. “Another option would be a self-build/ownership structure.”

Will Iowa Supreme Court Eagle Point Solar decision help other states get third party solar PV PPAs?

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 11, 2014  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

<br /><br />
This photo taken Jan. 20, 2014, shows Barry Shear, president of Eagle Point Solar, with one of his company's solar panels inside their Dubuque, Iowa, office.  Eagle Point Solar is involved in a case over solar power going to the Iowa Supreme Court.<br /><br />

This photo taken Jan. 20, 2014, shows Barry Shear, president of Eagle Point Solar, with one of his company’s solar panels inside their Dubuque, Iowa, office. Eagle Point Solar is involved in a case over solar power going to the Iowa Supreme Court. 

THE DES MOINES REGISTER, CHRISTOPHER GANNON / AP PHOTO

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/11/4230352/iowa-supreme-court-to-decide-solar.html#storylink=cpy

Iowa ruling gives boost to solar energy expansion

BY RYAN J. FOLEY

ASSOCIATED PRESS

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Solar energy companies can legally sell power directly to customers, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday in a boost to the small but growing source of renewable energy.

The ruling will likely expedite the adoption of rooftop solar power generating systems — particularly by cities, schools and nonprofit groups — that can reduce users’ energy costs and their impact on the environment. It also puts Iowa in line with about two dozen other states that allow so-called power purchase agreements, at a time when state leaders are hoping to expand solar energy production.

“This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington. “It undoubtedly will help to jump-start solar installations across the state.”

At issue was whether Eagle Point Solar could enter into an agreement with Dubuque to install solar panels at a city building. Under the arrangement, the city would purchase power generated from its rooftop from Eagle Point, which would own and maintain the panels for a period of time before the city gained ownership.

Such agreements allow entities that don’t pay taxes — including governments and nonprofits — to take advantage of generous federal tax breaks designed to promote solar energy. They allow users to avoid the expensive initial costs of installation, and let solar companies recoup their investments by bringing in revenue from energy sales. Dubuque-based Eagle Point and other companies plan to market similar agreements statewide after Friday’s ruling.

Alliant Energy and other utilities had argued that the agreements were illegal. They claimed solar companies could not sell power to customers under Iowa law, which grants regulated utilities the exclusive right to customers in their service territories in exchange for providing affordable electricity to all. Allowing such agreements, the companies warned, could lead to higher rates for customers to make up for lost business.

The Iowa Utilities Board, which regulates utilities, agreed. The board had ruled that Eagle Point Solar would be acting as a “public utility” by selling power to Dubuque, which wasn’t allowed, and could take away customers from Alliant. Eagle Point and other solar advocates appealed, and a judge overturned the board’s decision last year.

In the Supreme Court’s 4-2 decision, Justice Brent Appel wrote that agreements such as the one proposed for Dubuque do not have enough “public interest” to justify treating the solar company as a regulated utility. He said demand for electricity from utilities could drop if the solar movement “gets legs in Iowa,” but there was no evidence offered about the potential impact. He noted that in states that allow purchase agreements, “there was no suggestion that the integrity of the grid or economic health of regulated providers has been adversely affected.”

Appel noted the “countervailing positive impacts” of solar energy.

“Behind-the-meter solar facilities tend to generate electricity during peak hours when the grid is under the greatest pressure,” he wrote, adding that Iowa law also requires utilities to promote renewable energy.

Dissenting Justice Edward Mansfield said the court was improperly acting “as experts on the delivery of electrical energy” and should have deferred to the Iowa Utilities Board decision.

A spokesman said the board would factor the ruling into its ongoing review of self-generation of solar and wind energy, which could lead to rule-making or recommendations to lawmakers. Mark Douglas, president of the Iowa Utility Association, said utilities were studying the “broad implications” the ruling could have on customers and service.

Iowa has the 16th most potential for solar energy production, according to an Iowa Environmental Council report. Gov. Terry Branstad signed a law earlier this year expanding state tax credits for solar energy projects.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/11/4230352/iowa-supreme-court-to-decide-solar.html#storylink=cpy

 

Iowa Supreme Court ruling clears way for third-party rooftop solar agreements

Friday, July 11, 2014 10:35 AM

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling this morning that a Dubuque solar energy company did not act as a public utility when it attempted to enter into a third-party power purchase agreement with the city of Dubuque, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported.

In a split decision, the court ruled, 4-2, with one abstention, in favor of Eagle Point Solar in the case filed against the Iowa Utilities Board. The ruling is expected to clear the way for additional municipalities or nonprofits, which cannot directly claim solar tax credits, to buy solar energy from non-utility third parties and take advantage of the credits.

“It’s a big deal for small business,” Ralph Rosenberg, executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, told the Business Record. “I know there are a lot of people in the solar industry who are really happy about how this is going to promote solar energy.”

Third party power purchase agreements are an important tool for expanding renewable energy in the state, along with tax incentives, loans, grants and other financing vehicles, he said.

The court found that the power purchase agreement didn’t infringe on Alliant Energy Corp.’s exclusive operating area. The city had planned to have Eagle Point Solar install solar panels on a city-owned building. Energy harvested through the panels would be sold to the city, through a third party, and used to supply some of the building’s electricity.

Though the solar-generated electricity would not have passed through Alliant meters, Alliant officials claimed the agreement violated terms of its exclusive operating rights agreement.

Read more: http://www.businessrecord.com/Content/Energy—Utilities/Energy—Utilities/Article/Iowa-Supreme-Court-ruling-clears-way-for-third-party-rooftop-solar-agreements/183/930/64389#ixzz37CenQyEq

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