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District Court Judge Issues A Ruling

July 6, 2018
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

A long-anticipated ruling has been handed down from the Third District Court filed by Bertha and Stephen Mathis on a decision made by the Iowa Utilities Board in a civil suit.

On Dec. 5, 2017, the Petitioners (Bertha Mathis and Stephen Mathis) requested the IUB reconsider their long-standing determination that the term "facility" is measured by the nameplate generating capacity of the wind turbines connected to a single gathering line, in Iowa Code 476A. Iowa Code 476A.1(5) defines a facility as "any electric power generating plant or a combination of plants at a single site, owned by any person, with a total capacity of 25 MW (megahertz) of electricity or more." The Petitioners asked that the IUB reexamine their interpretation of the definition of a facility, found in the Iowa Code 476A.1(5).

This past February, the IUB confirmed the gathering line standard as its interpretation of "facility." In ruling February 6, 2015, (Docket No, WRU-2015-001-3700), the IUB stated, "If the capacity of turbines connected to a singular gathering or feeder line is less than 25 MH of nameplate capacity, there is not facility as defined in Iowa Code 476A.1(5)." Even earlier, Docket No. DRU-03-3 (June 6, 2003), the IUB confirmed the term "facility" refers to the wind turbines connected to a common gathering line at a single site.

The IUB reaffirmed its long-standing determination that the term "facility" measured by the nameplate generating capacity of the wind turbines connected to a single gathering line in the Petition filed by the Mathis's.

After the ruling by the IUB, the Mathis's requested an appellate ruling from the Third District Court of Iowa on Feb. 5. The Petitioner's requested that the Third District Court in the appellate review the meaning of the term "facility" as determined by the IUB and that the IUB does not have the authority to interpret the meaning of the "facility" as used in Iowa Code 476A.1(5). The Petitioners have declared that this is beyond the scope of the authority delegated to the IUB.

On July 3, Nancy L. Whittenburg, District Court Judge, Third Judicial District of Iowa, entered her ruling by basically saying, the IUB's findings and decisions in this case is not erroneous, nor is it unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious. The IUB's decision was based on a proper understanding of the law, significant evidence in support of its findings and application of precedent. The application of the Zond (Docket No. WRU-2015-001-2770) determination that the term "facility" (Iowa Code 476A01(5)), is "measured by the nameplate generating a capacity of the wind turbines connected to a single gather line," meaning a Certificate of Public Convenience, Use or Necessity from the IUB is not required for the Palo Alto County Wind Energy project, is reasonable, logical and wholly justified and should be affirmed.

Judge Whittenburg stated, "It's therefore ordered that the Iowa Utility Boards' Declaratory Order of February 2, 2018, Docket No. DRU-2017-003, is hereby affirmed and the relief requested by the Petitioners is overruled."

Understandably, many have no idea if this is the final step in this civil matter. However, the lawsuit against the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9.



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