Private company can’t condemn for transmission line

Filed under:Laws & Rules,News coverage — posted by admin on December 14, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

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It’s about time… a judge in Montana has declared that a private entity that is building the MATL transmission line does NOT have the power of eminent domain!  Well DUH a lot of us will say, this is a PRIVATE company, they’re not a regulated utility, so of course they wouldn’t have power of eminent domain.

“No judicial decision that this court is aware of provides authority for MATL’s position that a private merchant transmission line, without express or implied authority for condemnation, may pursue eminent domain proceedings,” she wrote.

But wait… what about CapX 2020, and their transmission plans from hell across the Midwest.  Let’s be clear — there is NO entity organized under the laws of the state of Minnesota named “CapX 2020,” and they have NOT declared, and refuse to declare what entity will own it.  At the same time, the Minnesota PUC agenda lately has had Xcel transferring its transmission assets to ITC.  So, what do you think they’ll do with CapX 2020 transmission after it is built USING THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN TO DO IT?  $50 says they’re transferring it to ITC, or TRANSLink or whatever transmission only company they can find.  It’s a shell game, we know what they’re doing, but try to get the PUC to care!

shellgame

Judge denies MATL use of eminent domain


By KARL PUCKETT • Tribune Staff Writer•
December 14, 2010

A district judge in Montana ruled Monday that a Canadian developer of a high-voltage power line has no authority to condemn private property for the project.

The decision, filed Monday, is a victory for landowners trying to limit the impact of the Montana Alberta Tie Line. It also could carry ramifications for other developers proposing transmission projects to meet demand from wind developers asking for additional shipping capacity.

“Larry Salois only wanted to protect his mother’s property from the transmission line going through historic Indian archaeological sites,” said Salois’ attorney, Hertha Lund. “He never wanted a legal battle.”

Salois is the guardian of his mother, Shirley Salois, the property owner. They live east of Cut Bank.

In July, a Montana subsidiary of Tonbridge Power Inc. of Toronto filed a complaint to condemn their land in Glacier County District Court after Salois argued the proposed route should be adjusted across his property farther from tepee rings and a wetland.

Lund argued Tonbridge could not exercise the right of eminent domain because it is not an agent of the state that has been given express legislative authority to acquire private property.

District Judge Laurie McKinnon agreed and granted Salois’ motion to dismiss the company’s condemnation complaint.

“No judicial decision that this court is aware of provides authority for MATL’s position that a private merchant transmission line, without express or implied authority for condemnation, may pursue eminent domain proceedings,” she wrote.

The Legislature’s grant of eminent domain power to governmental bodies must be strictly construed, the judge said.

Private individuals and corporations, like state agencies, have no inherent power of eminent domain, McKinnon said, and their authority to use it must be derived specifically from the Legislature.

(more…)



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace