Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of solar

The U.S. solar industry is cheering a ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court on Friday that a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the city of Dubuque and local PV company Eagle Point Solar does not violate state law.

The decision is a setback for the regulated utility model. Iowa’s main public utility companies — Alliant Energy and MidAmerican Energy – had fought the deal, claiming to have exclusive rights to sell to customers in their service areas – an argument Iowa’s high court rejected.

"This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "It undoubtedly will help to jumpstart solar installations across the state, creating new jobs, pumping money into the economy and reducing pollution."

Resch stressed that the decision was also "a victory for freedom of choice, affirming the right of Iowans to decide how they want to power their homes and businesses in the future. We commend the court for doing the right thing."

The case revolved around an agreement that allows Eagle Point Solar to sell electricity to Dubuque that is generated by a solar panel installation on the roof of a city building.

Quoted by The Des Moines Register, Eagle Point Solar CEO Barry Shear said the ruling would help solar gain traction in the state by legalizing another way for people and governments to pay for solar projects.

"This ruling now makes other solar projects like this viable. We can go to any municipality, any university, any wastewater treatment plant, churches … and we can put solar on their roof or on their property — and they have to come up with zero dollars to do this."

Iowa now joins at least 22 other U.S. states (plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico) that allow solar PPA deals between customers and private solar companies.

According to The Des Moines Register, the Iowa Environmental Council issued earlier this year a report finding that the state could supply approximately 20% of its energy needs each year through rooftop solar installations.