Great letter by Bev Topp about 117.189 repeal

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on April 10, 2009 @ 5:21 am

There’s a great letter by Bev Topp in the Farmington Independent about repeal of Minn. Stat. 117.189, that horrible statute that makes “public service corporations” more special, with more power than even the state, by exempting them from many of the requirements and landowner protections under eminent domain law.

Here’s Bev’s letter:

Letter: Eminent domain rules affect everyone

Bev Topp, Eureka,
Published Thursday, April 09, 2009

To the editor,

I am writing to correct a statement reported in last week’s Independent about the CapX2020 lines opposed by the Citizens Energy Task Force. Michelle Leonard wrote a timely report on the project with lines that are proposed to go through several townships in Dakota County by 2011. And her report of the disadvantages landowners faced in negotiations with the utilities in Empire accurately depict the kind of low offers that can occur without the adequate protections that are now in place with the 2006 eminent domain law (In Empire: $14,600 instead of the $55,000 mediation award).

Because utilities were given a “pass” on very important sections of the 2006 law, they can offer very low, unfair prices for the easements they will get for their 15-story electric towers, and the landowners’ only recourse will be to take it or spend large sums for attorneys to work for fair offers. Even then they will have to turn over a significant portion of the award to these attorneys.

Contrary to what Ms. Leonard reported, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate this session by Rep. David Bly and Senator Kevin Dahle, both of Northfield. However, because of lobbying by the utilities, these bills will not make it to the floor this session and the only hope for making the laws apply to utilities as it does to governmental entities is to attach it as an amendment to other bills.

So why is this important to all citizens — not just the landowners along 600 miles of CapX towers?

1) “Public service corporations” can take advantages of these exceptions to the eminent domain law whenever they deal with landowners.

2) We are already asking landowners to host these massive electric towers every 600-900 feet across their property where noise, electromagnetic fields dangerous to people’s health, property devaluation and other disadvantages will be lived with into the foreseeable future. Why are we asking them to also “give away” the fair price that should be paid for using their land, to deliver electricity to other destinations?

It is important that citizens from all over Minnesota contact their senators and representative to ask that utilities operate by the same rules that our governments do when taking land for a public purpose. And it is very important that people potentially affected by the construction of the CapX2020 lines show up to the meetings scheduled for public input.

See for a list of meetings and locations (Lakeville on Wednesday evening and Cannon Falls on Thursday evening).

Bev Topp
Eureka Township
Bev Topp is a member of the Citizens Energy Task Force

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace