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Eminent domain process in transmission line projects

Utility companies building the transmission line projects have the right of eminent domain, which means they can legally gain the property rights needed for the CREZ projects.

In 2008, state authorities approved Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) projects designed to transmit more than 18,000 megawatts of wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle to highly populated metropolitan areas of the state.

Since that time, several steps affecting landowners have taken place or may take place for individual transmission line projects:

Applications made. Companies building the transmission lines submitted routes for transmission lines to the Public Utility Commission.

Landowners may intervene. After being notified of the proposed routes, affected landowners may file a statement with the PUC.

Hearing held if landowners intervene. A state administrative law judge oversees these proceedings, which may include testimony. The judge makes a recommendation on the route.

Commissioners decide. The PUC commissioners make a decision that may be different from the recommendation of the judge. This is known as a final order.

Right-of-way negotiations begin. Electric utilities seek out rights from affected landowners so they can build, operate and maintain the transmission line. This right is typically called an... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

In 2008, state authorities approved Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) projects designed to transmit more than 18,000 megawatts of wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle to highly populated metropolitan areas of the state.

Since that time, several steps affecting landowners have taken place or may take place for individual transmission line projects:

Applications made. Companies building the transmission lines submitted routes for transmission lines to the Public Utility Commission.

Landowners may intervene. After being notified of the proposed routes, affected landowners may file a statement with the PUC.

Hearing held if landowners intervene. A state administrative law judge oversees these proceedings, which may include testimony. The judge makes a recommendation on the route.

Commissioners decide. The PUC commissioners make a decision that may be different from the recommendation of the judge. This is known as a final order.

Right-of-way negotiations begin. Electric utilities seek out rights from affected landowners so they can build, operate and maintain the transmission line. This right is typically called an easement. Some minor adjustments to the route are allowed.

"Final offer" made. If no agreement is reached, utilities make a final offer to the landowner. After Sept. 1, a new law takes affect that requires a certified appraiser do an appraisal to be included in the offer, which must be equal to or greater than the appraisal value.

Negotiations may continue. Even after a "final offer" is made, negotiations may continue at any stage of the process.

Condemnation petition filed. Utility companies building the transmission line projects have the right of eminent domain, which means they can legally gain the property rights needed for the CREZ projects. But if the parties can't agree on a price, condemnation is the name of the process by which the dispute is resolved.

Administrative phase of condemnation begins. Condemnation can include the calling of three "special commissioners" - landowners in the same county as the parties involved in the dispute with the utility company - to hear arguments from both sides and assign a value to the property in question.

Trial phase possible. A judge enters the award amount into public record, but both parties can choose to go to court and have a civil trial over appropriate compensation for the property rights in question.


Source: http://www.reporternews.com...

JUL 17 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/31398-eminent-domain-process-in-transmission-line-projects
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