In 2010, a number of private companies armed with the governmental power of Eminent Domain are seeking to expand the network of electric, gas and oil transmission lines. Such companies include ONCOR and entities specifically created as "nonprofit companies" for the purpose of owning easements for their parent entities.
These types of easements present some unique issues, including necessity of evaluating the precise rights that the Condemnor is taking and what rights remain to the landowner. Some types of easements affect the development potential and the use of the remaining property in a negative way, resulting in substantial loss of value.
The purpose of this paper is not to comment upon the public worth of such projects, nor disparage the granting of powers of Eminent Domain to private companies. It is however important for a potential Condemnee to be aware that they may be faced with non-standardized easement documents which will affect the title of their land and its potential use for many years.
Property owners who find themselves in the pathway of utility easement corridors should seek counsel knowledgeable about the impacts of specific easement language upon utility of their property and potential effect upon its value. It is difficult to envision the impact of a proposed project without an understanding of the easement language. Further, studies of the health and valuation impact of high voltage transmission lines like those under construction by ONCOR and LCRA vary. It is certain that most property owners are at a significant disadvantage when dealing with well informed company negotiators - who may be more concerned with the company bottom line than fair compensation.