Eminent-Domain Debate Could Affect Georgia Power Lines

The populist movement against municipal eminent-domain actions could add fire to a Georgia group's efforts to rein in the right of power companies to site new transmission lines on private property. Homeowners Opposing Powerline Encroachment (HOPE) is hoping to gain new support as the Georgia legislature begins debate on several bills seeking to curb the ability of towns and cities to seize pri...
By Staff March 1, 2006

The populist movement against municipal eminent-domain actions could add fire to a Georgia group’s efforts to rein in the right of power companies to site new transmission lines on private property. Homeowners Opposing Powerline Encroachment (HOPE) is hoping to gain new support as the Georgia legislature begins debate on several bills seeking to curb the ability of towns and cities to seize private land for redevelopment.

The current Georgia bills would not affect power company transmission-line efforts. However HOPE’s leaders are planning to lobby in favor of new language that would include power companies as well.

Representatives for Georgia Transmission Corp , which sites and builds transmission lines for many of the state’s power companies, have said that Georgia’s Forsyth County could face brownouts by 2007 if new lines aren’t constructed to serve the fast-growing area.

The state gave power companies the right of eminent domain in the early 1900s, according to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, to speed electrification in rural areas. The power companies receive easements, while landowners retain ownership and are responsible for all property taxes.

However, some power companies have begun using their easements for more than just power lines by selling or leasing space for telecommunications cable along the easements’ paths. Court cases are now underway in which property owners are suing to have the added cables removed from their property.