To provide greater protections for private-property owners when utility companies seek to install power lines, State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) is sponsoring legislation to slow the process and give property owners more rights.
“While the electric grid does need to be expanded due to energy demand increases around the state and country, that need should not come at the expense of landowners and their rights,” Righter said. “My legislation would inject a greater measure of due process for where electric lines are built so landowners don’t get steamrolled by these utility companies.”
Righter’s Senate Bill 777 would require that utilities provide and identify a proposed primary route and at least one alternative route for their proposed project at the first public meeting in each county the transmission line would go. In addition, the general public would be given the opportunity to ask questions and offer concerns on the proposed routes.
The legislation also requires utilities when constructing their lines to preserve the land they are on, take mitigative actions, and repair the land if they damage it during construction. Also, the Illinois Commerce Commission would extend the number of days beyond the current 45 days to consider issuing an eminent domain order against a landowner.
“This is about giving more protections, guarantees, and more time to landowners when dealing with a proposed electric line,” Righter said. “Right now, many landowners are often confused and frustrated at the lack of information and the speed at which the process goes. This legislation makes things more clear and slows things down when they are dealing with utilities so landowners aren’t caught off guard.”
“The Illinois Farm Bureau appreciates Sen. Righter introducing SB 777 because it will help protect landowners’ property rights when they are faced with the possibility of an electric transmission line being constructed on their property,” said Bill Bodine of the Farm Bureau. “Some recent utility projects in Illinois have utilized expedited review procedures in the consideration of their electric transmission projects before the Illinois Commerce Commission. This process moves so quickly that landowners have had difficulty involving themselves in the process. The bill makes changes to this expedited review process so landowners will have more information and better opportunities to protect their rights.”