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Rights-of-Way and Eminent Domain

Transmission line and pipeline corridors are established during the certification process under either the Transmission Line Siting Act or the Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Siting Act, the state’s centralized process for licensing  transmission lines and natural gas pipelines.

  • Corridors are proposed areas within which transmission line or pipeline rights-of-way will be located.
  • The right-of-way, the land necessary for construction and maintenance of transmission lines or pipelines, is located within the corridor and identified prior to construction.
  • After all property required for the right-of-way has been acquired, the boundaries of the certified area narrow to only that land within the boundaries of the right-of-way.

Utilities obtain land needed for new transmission line or pipeline in several ways. Typically, they offer to buy the necessary land at fair market value and an agreeable sale is negotiated. Sometimes developers include utility infrastructure in their plans and dedicate or donate rights-of-way for utilities.

Electric utilities typically work with the landowner to make sure the new line is as compatible as possible with existing or planned uses of the property. Many land uses can continue within a transmission line right-of-way as long as it does not interfere with safe operation of the line. Golf courses, parking lots, hiking and equestrian trails, row crops, citrus orchards and cattle pastures are examples of land uses often found within power line rights-of-way.
Occasionally, if a voluntary purchase is not successful, utilities may use the power of eminent domain to acquire private property for public use.

Eminent Domain
Eminent domain is the power of the state to take private property for public use with compensation to the owner. This power, given to electric utilities by the state of Florida, authorizes a utility to acquire a right-of-way even though the owner does not want to sell. Transmission lines and pipelines require a linear, continuous right-of-way, preventing the utility from simply purchasing necessary land rights from another, more willing property owner.

Utilities have this option under Florida law because power lines and pipelines benefit the community at large. The eminent domain process is governed by procedures set forth in Chapters 73 and 74, Florida Statutes, and includes the right of the landowner to be represented by counsel in an appropriate proceeding.

To be successful in an eminent domain process, the electric utility must first establish a need for the new facility. Then the utility must show that in its route selection it has considered and evaluated costs, safety, long-range area planning, environmental factors and alternative routes. Once it is established that the utility facility is needed and the route selection process was properly conducted, the utility is granted the necessary land rights through the exercise of eminent domain and the utility must pay full compensation for the fair market value of the land rights acquired. An appeal process is available through the appropriate Florida District Court of Appeal.

The Florida Public Service Commission oversees electric utilities’ planning of their transmission systems to ensure they are providing a reliable, safe and cost-effective coordinated grid pursuant to Chapter 366, Florida Statutes.

Last Modified:
July 8, 2024 - 8:17am

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