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New legislation to protect property owners’ rights from utility company installations

To provide greater protections for private-property owners when utility companies seek to install power lines, legislation was introduced to slow the process and give property owners more rights.

Proponents of the proposal note the electric grid needs to be expanded due to energy demand increases around the state and country, but underscored that need should not come at the expense of landowners and their rights. Senate Bill 777 would inject a greater measure of due process for where electric lines are built so landowners’ rights are protected. 

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.

Currently, landowners are often confused and frustrated when dealing with a proposed electric line, particularly the lack of information and the speed of the process. Senate Bill 777 will clarify the process, slowing it down to enable them to work with the utilities so landowners aren’t caught off guard.

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