We've previously reported on some of the major renewable energy projects currently underway, such as Southern California Edison's Tehachapi Renewable Energy Transmission Line Project and GE's plans to design the largest wind farm in the world. After a major planning effort, it appears that another renewable energy project -- the Sunrise Powerlink project -- may be moving forward as well.
According to a March 7 San Diego Union Tribune article by Onell Soto, the 123-mile, $1.88 billion Sunrise Powerlink project has obtained approval from the Public Utilities Commission and the Bureau of Federal Land Management, but is still waiting approval from the U.S. Forest Service. The project is also facing challenges by the County of San Diego.
Despite those challenges, property acquisitions for the project have commenced. In addition to several voluntary acquisitions, eminent domain actions to acquire some of the necessary property for the transmission line right-of-way are underway. (For those wondering, private utility companies typically have the power of eminent domain for public projects.) Filing the eminent domain actions now is likely necessary in order to obtain possession of the impacted properties in order to meet the project's construction timeline (construction is scheduled to begin this summer).
The eminent domain process is necessary when a condemning agency and the property owner cannot agree on an acquisition price. For projects like the Sunrise Powerlink project, disputes over "fair market value" typically involve how the high-voltage transmission lines will impact the remainder of the owner's property, not necessarily the value of the right of way being acquired.
In some instances, a power line's transversing a parcel arguably leaves the remaing property with no remaining economic value, generating significant "severance damages." Not surprisingly, cases involving such severance damages often involve a wide range of opinions among eminent domain attorneys and appraisers.
California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.
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