L.D. 2087: Land for transmission lines

An Act to Protect Property Owners by Making Certain Changes to the Laws Governing the Use of Eminent Domain by Transmission and Distribution Utilities.
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The legislation was signed April 22 by Gov. Janet Mills.
The Maine Monitor is recapping the 131st Legislature by highlighting legislative bills you should know about. View all of our recaps.

Lawmakers passed a bill that will limit the state’s ability to take land for power lines and transmission towers, a shift that one lawmaker said would be the biggest change to eminent domain in 50 years.

The legislation was signed April 22 by Gov. Janet Mills. 

The bill adds requirements around notification, damages and siting of high-impact transmission lines, and includes a requirement for two purchase price estimates for properties smaller than 200 acres that have been approved for a transmission line — one for the portion of the property where the line would be built and the other for the entire property. 

A previous version of the bill that would have barred the state from taking land for transmission lines faced pushback from a number of groups, who worried the legislation could curtail the state’s ability to build the transmission infrastructure experts say is essential to reducing emissions.

Both bills received vocal support from residents in the path of the Aroostook Renewable Gateway Project, a plan to build a 140-mile overhead transmission line to connect the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River with New England’s electric grid.

While the project has since been dropped, supporters of the legislation say they hope it will provide a path for building high-impact power lines in Maine that balances numerous interests.

Read the full bill on the legislature’s website.

Here are some excerpts from testimony:


“The concerns of my constituents, whose property sits in the path of the proposed transmission line, have revealed the lack of clear, fair and well-developed guidelines governing the use of eminent domain, underscoring the urgency to establish stringent criteria and protections that respect property rights and community integrity.” ~ Sen. Chip Curry, Waldo

“Passing L.D. 2087 as written doesn’t cancel the Northern Maine Renewable Energy Program, but does push developers and legislators to work together to find a better way. During recent testimony, Sen. Troy Jackson said he’d have a problem with a transmission line running in his own backyard. Why sentence rural Mainers to carry this burden?” ~ Tanya Blanchard, Preserve Rural Maine

Neither for nor against:

“Maine can get this right. Because the most recent proposal for a Northern Maine Transmission Line is no longer on the table, we now have the opportunity to pause and explore better ways to structure the process. … We hope L.D. 2087 and the conversation today creates an opportunity for Maine to develop a new approach to transmission siting that balances communities, climate and conservation.” ~ Kaitlyn Nuzzo, The Nature Conservancy

“Local leaders have varying opinions toward L.D. 2087 in that they deeply respect and support the rights of property owners but additionally understand the importance of infrastructure development to the future of our state. Some officials have expressed frustration for the authority granted to power companies to use eminent domain and feel it is an abhorrent abuse of power, while others feel this proposal is merely a reaction to the recent issue experienced with LS Power.” ~ Rebecca Lambert, Maine Municipal Association


Kate Cough

Kate Cough is editor of The Maine Monitor. She previously served as enterprise editor for The Monitor while also covering energy and the environment and writing the weekly Climate Monitor newsletter. Before joining The Monitor, Kate was a beat reporter for The Ellsworth American and digital media strategist for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. Kate graduated with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Magna Cum Laude from Bryn Mawr College. Kate is an eighth generation Mainer, who lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, daughter, and dogs.
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