Solar energy heads to Iowa Supreme Court

January 27, 2014 0 By Tami Hood

Clean power company ruffles the feathers of state’s utilities

Iowa - Solar EnergySolar energy is becoming a big deal in the U.S. States throughout the country are beginning to invest in solar power as a way to cut down on their consumption of fossil-fuels, thereby helping the environment and finding some degree of economic stability. As renewable energy continues to gain momentum, utilities that are still focused on fossil-fuels are beginning to feel the need to adapt. Some have begun investing in clean power systems, but others have taken issue with the fact that technologies, like rooftop solar energy systems, are leading to lower profits.

Supreme Court set to rule on infringement issue this week

The Iowa Supreme Court is set to rule on an issue concerning the state’s utilities and a solar power company this week. Utilities claim that the solar power company, called Eagle Point Solar, is infringing upon their rights. The company installs solar panels on homes, businesses, and municipal buildings. This in itself is not a problem for utilities, but those using Eagle Point Solar’s technologies can sell the energy they produce back to the company. Utilities in Iowa hold exclusive rights when it comes to selling electrical power.

Power purchase agreements may violate state law

Those supporting Eagle Point Solar argue that power purchase agreements are in place and that these agreements protect Eagle Point Solar and its customers. Attorneys representing the state’s utilities argue, however, that these agreements violate state law. According to Iowa’s laws, utilities are the only entities that can sell electrical power but they must also provide electrical power for everyone in the areas that they serve. Eagle Point Solar, and other companies like it, cannot sell electrical power even if this energy is coming from renewable sources and the company has an agreement with its customers.

Utilities show concern over renewable energy

Renewable energy and utilities has not yet become a major issue but many utilities are beginning to show concern over the growing popularity of solar energy. If homeowners and businesses are able to generate their own electrical power, they have little need for utilities. Many utilities have entered into their own power purchase agreements with operators of large-scale renewable energy systems in order to avoid this potential problem. Through these agreements, utilities purchase the electricity generated by these systems and then sell it to consumers at a discounted rate.

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