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Great news!

The press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – In a setback to the regulated utility model, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the city of Dubuque and Eagle Point Solar does not violate state law. Regulated utility companies had fought the arrangement, claiming to have exclusive rights to sell to customers in their service areas. Today, Iowa’s high court disagreed. After the decision was handed down, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released the following statement:

“This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa. It undoubtedly will help to jumpstart solar installations across the state, creating new jobs, pumping money into the Iowa economy and reducing pollution. But just as importantly, this is 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.”

This is particularly important because the Iowa Energy Center, established by the legislature, works to increase sustainable energy, and putting solar and wind back into the system is an important component of making renewable energy viable. Among the services of the Iowa Energy center:
Interested in workshop and trainings? New to renewable energy and energy efficiency? Visit the Learning Institute section of our website for information related to your needs as an energy user in Iowa. The Learning Institute provides information and tools for homeowners, grant seekers, individuals or companies in industrial and commercial fields, engineers, those in the agricultural sector, and Iowans interested in K-12 education opportunities.

In addition to providing information and education, the Iowa Energy Center supports renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for Iowans through our competitive grant, scholarship, and loan programs.

- See more at: http://www.iowaenergycenter.org/...

More about the financing:
Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program (AERLP)
This program is open to any individual interested in building a renewable energy facility for their home or business in Iowa. Biomass (waste management, resource recovery, refuse-derived fuel, agriculture crops or residues, and wood burning facilities), wind (small and large turbine), solar, hydro or a combination of technologies are eligible for funding. The loans are not available for refinancing existing loans.
- See more at: http://www.iowaenergycenter.org/...

More from The Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled today that a local solar energy company did not act as a public utility when it attempted to enter a third-party power purchase agreement with the city of Dubuque. In a split decision, the court ruled, 4-2, with one abstention, in favor of Eagle Point Solar, filing as SZ Enterprises, against the Iowa Utilities Board. The court found that the power purchase agreement (PPA) didn’t infringe on Alliant Energy’s exclusive operating area.

“The problem for the IUB … is that it has not offered a clear explanation as to why Eagle Point should be considered an electric utility even if it is not a public utility,” Justice Brent Appel wrote in a majority opinion. Industry experts have predicted the case could help efforts to further establish solar power as a viable alternative energy source. But a spokesman for Alliant Energy warned the decision could have a long-term impact on customers’ electricity bills.

Under the PPA, Eagle Point Solar installed PV solar panels on the city-owned Municipal Services Building. Energy harvested through the panels was then sold to the city, through a third party, and used to power some building operations. Though the solar energy did not pass through Alliant meters, Alliant officials claimed the PPA violated terms of the company’s exclusive operating rights agreement. The Iowa Utilities Board agreed, and shot down the PPA in 2012. A Polk county district court judge reversed the ruling a year later.

Midwest Energy News discusses policy implications:
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.”

And just in case you were wondering why this matters to Iowans, here's a photo collection that will make you want to move here.

Originally posted to Wee Thoughts on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 04:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by Good News and Kosowatt.

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