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This bill would prohibit the use of eminent domain by electric and gas corporations for the building of electric transmission, distribution and service lines. The Business Council Inc. strongly opposes this legislation, as it would make it dramatically more difficult to build critically needed energy infrastructure in New York State.
Irrespective of your views on any particular project, there is still widespread support for the use of eminent domain for public benefit projects, utility rights of way, and so called “common carrier” projects. And, unlike the “Kelo” controversy, where property could be taken for private economic development activities, utility projects, like common carrier projects, have long been considered to be public benefits.
While the bill only addresses transmission facilities, it would significantly affect the ability to develop new generation capacity as well, by making it more difficult to build additional transmission lines necessary to move the power to the grid. This legislation would virtually preclude the building of natural gas delivery systems as well.
The energy systems we rely on that sustains our economy could not have been built without the use of eminent domain. Under the Eminent Domain Procedure Law, landowners are given notice and the right to oppose their land's condemnation. Landowners are compensated for the fair market value of their property, and all determinations can be challenged in court. This specific, limited use of authority has served the public very well since the inception of public utilities, and to take away this ability will jeopardize the reliability of the gas and electric system in this state.
For the abovementioned reasons, The Business Council strongly opposes S.8349/A.11977.