The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a district court ruling that a solar company that’s working with the city of Dubuque is not a public utility. The lower court ruling had overturned a finding by the Iowa Utilities Board that concluded if Eagle Point Solar provided electricity to a city-owned building it would be a public utility.
The IUB says Solar Point would be selling electricity in the exclusive service territory of Interstate Power. The district court concluded that the primary business of Eagle Point was the installation of solar panels, not selling electricity. It said the solar facility had the same impact on Interstate’s supply of electricity as energy efficiency technologies. The majority of the Supreme Court agreed.
Justice Edward Mansfield wrote a dissenting opinion, saying “To my mind, the majority opinion is a good case study on the limits of judicial competence and why the legislature wanted us to defer, in large part, to the regulatory agency. As I read the majority opinion, my colleagues appear to be substituting their expertise on utility regulation for that of the Board.” Justice Waterman joined Mansfield’s dissent.
Here’s the complete ruling: Solar ruling PDF