HBA-CBW H.B. 2709 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2709 By: Hawley State Affairs 3/28/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Under current law, electric utilities have the authority to use eminent domain to take private property for the construction of electric transmission lines. Traditionally, electric utilities constructed transmission lines on the utility customer's property, which provided the electric utility with some incentive to work with the landowner to negotiate easement rights. As the state begins to prepare for a deregulated electric market in January 2002, some electric utilities have begun using eminent domain authority to construct transmission lines over property outside of the utilities' operating area to have a competitive advantage. Under these circumstances, landowners could be forced to lose their property rights without consideration of alternatives. House Bill 2709 prohibits an electric utility from using its power of condemnation to construct, operate, or maintain a line unless certain conditions are met. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 2709 amends the Utilities Code to prohibit an electric utility from using its power of condemnation to construct, operate, or maintain a line unless the electric utility: _follows existing line rights-of-way; _follows other existing rights-of-way, if it is not feasible to follow existing line rightsof-way; or _follows existing property lines to the extent feasible, if it is not feasible to follow other existing rights-of-way. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.