Utilities lost a little more ground in their ongoing battle with the solar industry last week when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that solar installers are allowed to sell power through power purchase agreements.
When solar advocates talk about “monopoly utilities,” they’re not being disparaging. Utility companies in most states are granted monopolies and are allowed to protect their rein over a region. No other utility companies can operate in their territories. State regulators are in place to protect the public and keep the monopoly from exploiting its customers.
Alliant Energy, whose parent company is Interstate Power and Light Company, appealed to Iowa regulators when solar installer Eagle Point put solar panels atop a Dubuque municipal building and signed a power purchase agreement with the city.
A power purchase agreement allows home and business owners along with nonprofit and government groups to install solar panels with no upfront cost, much like the solar leasing model employed by popular SolarCity. Instead of leasing the panels, the home and business owners agree to purchase the power they produce from the installer.