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Iowa Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments For Palo Alto County Companion Cases

March 13, 2019
Emmetsburg News

On Tuesday, April 2, the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Forest City, Iowa. The proceeding will take place in the Boman Fine Arts Center, 225 John K. Hanson Drive. The oral arguments are open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m.

The court will hear arguments in two companion cases. Companion cases are cases that involve the same or similar parties, common material facts, and related questions of law. Resolution of these cases is a matter of broad public importance.

Mathis v. Iowa Utilities Board, et al., case no. 18-1184, from Palo Alto County District Court

For construction of an electric power generating facility, Iowa Code section 476A.2 requires the owners to obtain a certificate of public convenience, use, and necessity from the Iowa Utility Board (IUB) before beginning construction.

Petitioners, residents of Palo Alto County, sought to require the Palo Alto Wind Energy (PAWE) and MidAmerican Energy to obtain such a certificate for a planned wind energy project.

The IUB determined that a certificate was not required because the project did not meet the definition of "facility" in the statute.

The district court affirmed the IUB.

Petitioners contend the court erred in giving deference to the IUB's interpretation of the statute. PAWE and MidAmerican argue that the legislature vested the IUB with broad rulemaking authority that IUB properly exercised in this case.

Mathis, et al. v. Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, et al., case no. 18-1431, from Palo Alto County District Court

Plaintiffs challenged the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors' (Board) wind energy ordinance and approval of Palo Alto Wind Energy's (PAWE) construction application for a wind energy project.

The district court granted summary judgment in the Board's favor, finding that the Board followed proper procedures.

On appeal, Plaintiffs argue the Board's actions were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable because essentially PAWE and MidAmerican Energy drafted the ordinance, and further that the Board failed to consider recommendations from the Iowa DNR and State Archaeologist, reports regarding the project's noise levels, and other materials.

The Board argues that it acted appropriately under its home rule authority and that the ordinance is a product of the Board's general police power rather than the county's zoning power.


Attorneys' briefs for Mathis v. Iowa Utilities Board, et al. are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at .


Attorney briefs for Mathis, et al. v. Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, et al. are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at .

A public reception with the supreme court justices in the performing arts center will follow the oral arguments.



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