Iowa solar company fights for 'public utility' distinction in state supreme court

An Iowa solar company says it should be classified under the law as a "public utility" and benefit from access to customers that electric companies had exclusive access to, The Des Moines Register reported.

The Iowa Supreme Court is hearing the case between Eagle Point Solar and electric utilities over the distinction. If the court rules in Eagle Point's favor, the solar company could see an increase in business. Companies that use solar power to subsidize some energy can use "power purchase agreements" and receive renewable energy and tax credits, the report said.

The attorneys for MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy said in court briefs that if companies like Eagle Point are able to take part in these power purchase agreements it could amount to "backdoor deregulation," the report said. These companies say the utilities have exclusive rights to sell electricity in these areas and, in turn, are required to serve all the customers in the area, the report said.

"The broader implication is this would allow more projects to be built," Josh Mandelbaum, the attorney who will argue the case for Eagle Point, told The Register. "You give consumers more choice, more Iowa consumers are going to be able to take advantage of this."