Are you a Texas landowner concerned about a transmission line proposed to be built near your property?
Have you received a letter notifying you that your property may be affected by a new transmission line? Do you want to know your options to protect your rights? Should you intervene?
The most important thing!
The most important thing I want you to know is this: If a proposed transmission line may affect your property, there is only one way to fully protect your rights. Intervene in the case at the PUC.
I believe the best thing a landowner can do is request to intervene in the proceeding. Putting your concerns before the PUC can help ensure the PUC is aware of the effect of the line on you and your property. You may represent yourself or hire a lawyer to represent you.
What are intervenors?
Intervenors usually are directly-affected landowners who are parties in the case at the PUC.
Intervenors have legal rights. Those rights include the right to participate in the case and any settlement or mediation relating to the case. Also, intervenors have the right to appeal any decision of the PUC.
What about submitting comments?
If you only comment on the proposed line, the PUC will not consider your comments as evidence.
Also, you will not have the right to make discovery requests to obtain facts about the case. If you only comment, you may not participate in settlement discussions. You will not receive notice of a hearing or copies of testimony. If you only comment, you will not be allowed to file testimony or cross-examine witnesses. Landowners who only comment may not appeal the PUC’s decision.
What happens if you do not intervene or file comments?
The concerns of landowners who do not participate in the PUC’s process often are not presented. Thus, the PUC does not take them into account during the its review of the application. So, it is important that you consider filing a request to participate as an intervenor.
What route may the PUC approve?
The PUC requires the utility to identify the route the utility thinks best meets the Commission’s routing criteria. The PUC may approve that route or any of several alternate routes the utility includes in its PUC application. The Commission also may approve any combination of proposed links or segments in the utility’s application.
Do you have questions?
Landowners often have questions about:
- whether the proposed line is necessary,
- the size of the poles and number of wires,
- the width of the right-of-way, and
- the effect of the transmission line on their land values, the environment, and their health.
If you intervene, do you have to have a lawyer?
No, you may represent yourself. Representing yourself may involve reading thousands of pages of documents, trying to understand those documents, and significant time to respond to discovery and present your case, attend hearings, and prepare legal briefs for the administrative law judges and the PUC commissioners.
Should you hire a lawyer to represent you?
Deciding whether to hire a lawyer, and choosing the right representation for you, is an important decision. Consider contacting a Texas PUC lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and the PUC’s review and approval process.
In applications for approval of transmission lines, I represent only landowners. If you want to obtain information on the PUC’s process and how you can put your concerns before the PUC, you may contact me. Because I think it may help you to decide whether or not to participate in a proceeding as an intervenor, I am willing to provide to you a free, limited initial consultation with no obligation to hire me.
For more information about the author of this post, Texas PUC lawyer Brad Bayliff, please click here.