Supreme Court to Hear Dubuque Solar Panel Case; What are the implications in your state?

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   August 09, 2013  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Supreme Court to Hear Dubuque Solar Panel Case

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

Story Created: Aug 7, 2013 at 6:59 PM CDT

Story Updated: Aug 8, 2013 at 11:10 AM CDT

DUBUQUE, Iowa - A battle over how to pay for solar power will soon pit Alliant Energy and the Iowa Utilities Board against a Dubuque Company that installs solar panels. The argument centers around competition and the rules surrounding who can provide power to a consumer. Earlier this year, a district court judge ruled in favor of Eagle Point Solar. But the Iowa Utilities Board appealed that ruling and the Iowa Supreme has now agreed to hear the case.On top of Dubuque's Municipal Operations building, solar panels take in the sun.City leaders say the decided to install solar panels as part of its green initiatives plan.

Eagle Point Solar C.E.O. Barry Shear said, "you're avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and basically you're doing something that's good for the domestic economy as well. "

Shear sold the solar panels to the city. Shear says in order to give Dubuque the best deal he used what's called a 3rd Party Power Purchase agreement.

"It's not economically feasible without these incentives, "said Shear.

Because a city is a non-tax paying entity, it can't receive tax credits. A 3rd party, in this case a bank, buys the actual solar panels using tax credits, and sells the energy they create to the city.

Alliant Spokesperson Justin Foss says Eagle Point was acting as a utility provider. And that's against the rules.

Foss said, "The Iowa utilities board has said that each utility is assigned customers and has the responsibility to serve those customers. "

And the board says no competition allowed.

"Part of the reason the policy and procedure are in place is to make sure that customers who don't use the technology aren't subsidizing those who do," said Foss.

Back at Eagle Point, Shear simply says, that rule isn't fair.

"The utilities are preventing municipalities, schools, universities and churches from adopting renewable energy technologies inside the meter on their properties," said Shear.

And energetic battle expected to play out in court later this summer.

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