Bill Text - HB648 (2012)

(4th New Title) relative to eminent domain by public utilities and establishing a commission to investigate the procedural rights of the landowner when a petition is presented to the public utilities commission by a utility seeking eminent domain, develop a framework for the state to provide use rights to transmission developers on state owned rights-of-way, develop policies to encourage burying such lines where practicable, and establish a structure for payment.


Revision: Feb. 17, 2012, midnight

HB 648 – VERSION ADOPTED BY BOTH BODIES

30Mar2011… 1134h

01/25/12 0018s

01/25/12 0350s

01/25/12 0367s

01/25/12 0373s

01/25/12 0405s

15Feb2012… 0723EBA

2012 SESSION

11-1072

06/03

HOUSE BILL 648

AN ACT relative to eminent domain by public utilities and establishing a commission to investigate the procedural rights of the landowner when a petition is presented to the public utilities commission by a utility seeking eminent domain, develop a framework for the state to provide use rights to transmission developers on state owned rights-of-way, develop policies to encourage burying such lines where practicable, and establish a structure for payment.

SPONSORS: Rep. Rappaport, Coos 1; Rep. Remick, Coos 2; Rep. Kurk, Hills 7; Rep. Tholl, Coos 2; Rep. Ladd, Graf 5; Rep. Daugherty, Coos 1; Rep. Brosseau, Graf 6; Rep. Reilly, Graf 8; Sen. Forrester, Dist 2

COMMITTEE: Science, Technology and Energy

AMENDED ANALYSIS

This bill:

I. Modifies certain requirements pertaining to the taking of land or property rights by a utility.

II. Prohibits public utilities from petitioning for permission to take private land or property rights for the construction or operation of an electric generating plant or an electric transmission project that is not eligible for regional cost allocation by ISO – New England or its successor regional system operator.

III. Establishes a commission to investigate procedures for obtaining a hearing for landowners whose property is being considered for eminent domain, develop a framework to provide use rights to transmission developers on state owned rights-of-way, develop policies to encourage burying such lines where practicable, and establish a structure for payment.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

30Mar2011… 1134h

01/25/12 0018s

01/25/12 0350s

01/25/12 0367s

01/25/12 0373s

01/25/12 0405s

15Feb2012… 0723EBA

11-1072

06/03

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT relative to eminent domain by public utilities and establishing a commission to investigate the procedural rights of the landowner when a petition is presented to the public utilities commission by a utility seeking eminent domain, develop a framework for the state to provide use rights to transmission developers on state owned rights-of-way, develop policies to encourage burying such lines where practicable, and establish a structure for payment.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Section; Proceedings to Acquire Property or Rights. Amend RSA 371 by inserting after section 1-a the following new section:

371:1-b Acquisition Negotiations; Reference to Eminent Domain Prohibited. No public utility, predecessor development entity, or agent of either, shall refer to the use of eminent domain in any landowner negotiations, unless the commission has first specifically authorized its use under this chapter with respect to the affected landowner. Any landowner may file a complaint with the commission under RSA 365:1 alleging violation of this section. Upon a finding of violation, after notice and hearing, the public utility or project-sponsoring affiliate shall be fined up to $25,000 which shall be deposited in the general fund. If a landowner makes an inquiry concerning eminent domain, the public utility, predecessor development entity, or agent of either, may provide the landowner with the commission’s contact information without violating this section.

2 Right to Enter. Amend RSA 371:2-a to read as follows:

371:2-a Right to Enter. When ownership of land, upon or over which a public utility desires to erect facilities, cannot be ascertained without entry to do survey work, or, a public utility shall have filed a petition under RSA 371:1 with respect to a particular tract of land, in either case a public utility shall have the right to enter upon such land for the purpose of surveying and making such other investigation as is necessary to determine the locations of the boundaries of such land and of the facilities it desires to erect thereon or thereover, and to determine the title to, description of, or nature of such land. A public utility desiring to enter land in pursuance of this section shall [make every reasonable effort to] notify by certified mail the owner or probable owner or owners thereof of its desire to enter for the purposes aforesaid at least 30 days prior to entry. Notification shall include identification of the utility seeking to enter the land, the time and date of the proposed entry, and the portion or section of land to be surveyed or investigated. Upon the date specified for entry, the persons conducting the survey or investigation shall present themselves to the property owner and show identification. The public utility shall pay the owner or owners of any land it shall enter in pursuance of the provisions of this section for any actual damage done upon entry.

3 New Section; Appraisal Required. Amend RSA 371 by inserting after section 2-a the following new section:

371:2-b Appraisal Required. A public utility shall have an impartial, qualified appraiser make at least one appraisal of any property proposed to be acquired by eminent domain. The owner shall have a reasonable opportunity to have the property appraised by an independent, qualified appraiser, selected by the owner. The public utility shall reimburse the owner the usual and customary cost of the appraisal up to $1,500 for each property.

4 New Paragraph; Residential Owner Option. Amend RSA 371:5-a by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:

III. In all cases where residential property is taken pursuant to the provisions of this section, a resident owner shall also be awarded reasonable relocation and housing replacement expenses not to exceed 10 percent of the compensation ordered for the taking. If a residential tenant is also displaced as the result of any taking under this section, the tenant shall be awarded up to 6 months of the actual monthly rent being paid by the tenant prior to the notice given under section RSA 371:4, and reasonable relocation and housing replacement expenses not to exceed an additional 6 months of such monthly rent.

5 New Section; Project Delay; Option to Purchase. Amend RSA 371 by inserting after section 16-a the following new section:

371:16-b Project Delay; Option to Purchase. If, after a period of 5 years, the project for which land or property rights were taken has not commenced, the utility shall offer the person from whom such land or rights were taken the first option to buy such land or rights at the current market value.

6 Proceedings to Acquire Property or Rights; Petition. Amend RSA 371:1 to read as follows:

371:1 Petition. Whenever it is necessary, in order to meet the reasonable requirements of service to the public, that any public utility should construct a line, branch line, extension, [or a] pipeline, conduit, line of poles, towers, or wires across the land of another, or should acquire land, land for an electric substation, or flowage, drainage, or other rights for the necessary construction, extension, or improvement of any water power or other works owned or operated by such public utility, and it cannot agree with the owners of such land or rights as to the necessity or the price to be paid therefor, such public utility may petition the public utilities commission for such rights and easements or for permission to take such lands or rights as may be needed for said purposes. No public utility may petition for permission to take private land or property rights for the construction or operation of an electric generating plant or an electric transmission project not eligible for regional cost allocation, for either local or regional transmission tariffs, by ISO – New England or its successor regional system operator.

7 New Section; Commission Established. Amend RSA 371 by inserting after section 16 the following new section:

371:16-a Commission Established.

I. There is established a commission to investigate the procedural rights of the landowner when a petition is presented to the public utilities commission by a utility seeking eminent domain, develop a framework for the state to provide use rights to transmission developers on state owned rights-of-way, develop policies to encourage burying such lines where practicable, and establish a structure for payment.

II. The members of the commission shall be as follows:

(a) Three members of the senate, appointed by the president of the senate.

(b) Three members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.

(c) The commissioner of the department of transportation, or designee.

(d) One commissioner of the public utilities commission, or designee, appointed by the chairperson of the commission.

(e) One member of the office of energy and planning, appointed by the governor.

III. Legislative members of the commission shall receive mileage at the legislative rate when attending to the duties of the commission.

IV. The commission shall investigate the procedures available and potentially available to landowners for obtaining a hearing when their land is the subject of a petition filed with the public utilities commission by a utility seeking to take such property. The commission shall also develop a framework for the state to provide use rights to transmission developers, formulate policies which, in so far as practicable, encourage the burying of transmission lines along state rights-of-way and base payments on a percent of profitability.

V. The members of the commission shall elect a chairperson from among the members. The first meeting of the commission shall be called by the first-named senate member. The first meeting of the commission shall be held within 45 days of the effective date of this section. Five members of the commission shall constitute a quorum.

VI. The commission shall report its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate clerk, the house clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 2012.

8 Repeal. RSA 371:16-a, relative to the commission to develop a framework for the state to formulate policies relative to transmission developers, is repealed.

9 Effective Date.

I. Sections 1 through 5 of this act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

II. Section 8 of this act shall take effect November 1, 2012.

III. The remainder of this act shall take effect upon its passage.

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