NY Limits Eminent Domain Rights of Gas and Electric Companies

Date: 19 Oct 2006 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

New York Governor George Pataki has signed legislation (Senate Bill S8349-A) that will limit the use of eminent domain by electric and gas corporations.

“The use of eminent domain can have a significant impact on communities, and we must ensure that the legal power to take lands for public benefit is used appropriately,” Governor Pataki said. “Through this law, we will establish additional protections for communities across New York State by prohibiting transmission companies from utilizing eminent domain if a proposed project does not meet designated criteria. These new restrictions help to clarify the rights of a community and its residents, and will uphold their interests with regard to certain projects involving eminent domain.”

Senators and Assemblymembers applauded the enactment of the new law. Saying it was a “large step toward protecting our homes and communities” and ensures “that a company like New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) cannot take land from an unwilling seller so that they can further their project, at the expense of our communities and our economy.” NYRI has proposed a controversial 200-mile-long high-voltage electricity transmission line from Utica in central New York to New York City and Long Island.

Under the State Transportation Corporations Law, gas and electric corporations have “the power and authority to acquire such real estate as may be necessary for its corporate purposes and the right-of-way through any property in the manner prescribed by the eminent domain procedures law.”

The new legislation signed into law by Governor Pataki amends the Transportation Corporations Law to prohibit gas and electric merchant transmission corporations from using eminent domain if:

– The transmission company commences and ends in New York State;
– The construction of power transmission lines will increase electric rates in any part of the State; and
– The corporation applied for but did not receive early designation as a national interest electric transmission corridor under the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The new law takes effect immediately.


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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.