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Getting Right-of-Way Right

Landowner Compensation for Electric Power Transmission Rights-of-Way

Alison Berry

December 2013, English

In January 2013, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Sonoran Institute, Headwaters Economics and the Western Governors’ Association convened a workshop focusing on landowner compensation for electric power transmission (transmission) rights-of-way. In particular, participants focused on viable alternatives to the standard one-time, up-front payment for an easement, which is problematic from both landowner and developer perspectives. For landowners, there are many situations in which a one-time payment does not seem to be adequate compensation for the ongoing impacts of the transmission line on their property. Developers have a vested interest in meeting landowners’ needs in order to keep within project timelines and budgets, all while meeting extensive state and federal permitting requirements.

Workshop participants identified several alternative approaches for further study. For example, alternative compensation schemes including annual payments or royalty payments merited much discussion. There was also interest in new approaches to landowner negotiations, including working with landowner alliances, engaging landowners early, and incorporating landowner input into the siting process. The Western Governors’ Association transmission siting task force will pursue additional research into these alternatives.