Tag Archives: eminent domain

Why should we pay for their transmission lines?

Why should we pay for their transmission lines?


Last December the federal government decided that the Montana Dakota Utility customers can help pay for transmission lines in other states that deliver no power to Montanan’s. Now the Republican led legislature wants to make that easier (HB198) by granting the right of condemnation (eminent domain) to developers in eastern Montana that will ship wind power to states with problems meeting their self imposed Renewable Energy Mandates. Yes, you will receive no power from these lines but the costs will show up on your MDU bill. If you are a NorthWesten Energy customer don’t laugh. The head of the federal energy commission recently announced he wants to do the same thing to you.


Gov. Schweitzer has his own energy advisors that know of this yet pushes the legislature to get HB 198 on his desk as soon as possible. The PSC has held many sessions on what to do about this to protect Montana consumers yet PSC Commissioner Molnar is the only one to raise the issue at the legislature.


One commissioner cannot protect you. You must protect yourself. Regardless of the supplier of your electricity, or if you are a co-op served land owner, you should call 406-444-4800 and email your Representative and Senator and tell them of your displeasure of being used as a funding source (through HB 198) for other states decisions.



Private Property Legislation

Hat Tip: Rachel Roberts
Concerned Citizens Montana  ACTION – Voices for Honest Energy

Senate Legislative Hearing
OPPOSE – HB198- Eminent Domain Bill
SUPPORT SB 391 – Private Property Protection Related to Merchant Transmission
OPPOSE – HB198 – Generally Revise Eminent Domain – Sponsor Rep. Ken Peterson (R) kenneth59@bresnan.net – Hearing Senate Energy and Telecommunications Room 317, 3:00 PM 3/3/2011

This bill expands eminent domain to allow public utilities and out-of-state, out-of-country, private corporations to exercise the right to condemn private property for corporate profit. Public utilities include NorthWestern Energy that proposes their 500 kV merchant line Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI) and Montana Dakota Utility (MDU). Private foreign corporations include Toronto-based Tonebridge Power working on the Montana Alberta Tie-Line (MATL). MATL impacts 250 landowners in Montana and 113 landowners in Alberta . TransCanada would like eminent domain to pave the way for their 500 – 850 kV merchant transmission line, Chinock. The Chinock will follow along the path of MSTI.
SUPPORT –  SB 391 – Establishing private property protection program related to energy transmission – Sponsor Senator Art Wittich (R) senatorwittich@montana.com
Hearing Senate Energy and Telecommunications Room 317, 3:00 PM 3/3/2011
Since merchant lines are new to the state, this new law will provide a private property protection board to establish a 1) private property protection special revenue account (there is a private property protection account in the state special revenue fund), 2) private property protection program (to compensate private property owners for damage caused by the development of a merchant transmission line), and 3) private property protection license fee (an owner or operator of a merchant line shall pay a license fee, that is deposited as follows; 50% in the private property protection account, 50% in the state general fund. And, an owner or operator of a merchant line shall pay a license fee of 2% of the taxable value of the merchant line if, prior to construction, the owner or operator of the merchant line had not obtained voluntary right-of-way agreements or options for a right-of-way from more that 90% of private property owners who collectively own more than 90% of the property along the right-of-way and made all reasonable efforts to site the merchant line on public land.  
In-Person – There is strength in numbers and it’s encouraging to anticipate hundreds of people at the State Capitol to attend the legislative hearing. You can 1) prepare and read a couple of talking points and testify before the Senate Energy & Telecommunications committee. Provide a copy of your testimony for the Senate Energy & Telecommunications secretary when you are done speaking. (a prepared 2 -3 minute speech allows others a chance to speak) 2) If you are uncomfortable with speaking, you can still state your name and say I oppose House Bill 198. 3) come support those who are speaking and watch the legislative hearing. Legislators need to take heed of an overwhelming audience concerned about our private property rights. (A few more tips about legislative hearing protocol at the end of this e-mail)
Note: With e-mail letters or personal testimony before the committee, be polite, brief and stay on the topic of the bill regarding private property rights. The bill is not about wind energy.
Legislative Bills can be reviewed online at: www.leg.mt.gov
Call Capitol Switchboard – 406-444-4800 – [leave message for Senate Energy and Telecommunications committee]
Or email web form –  http://leg.mt.gov/css/sessions/62nd/legwebmessage.asp – [send message to Senate Energy and Telecommunications committee]
E-mail – Send separate e-mails for each bill. In the Subject line of your e-mail, title each e-mail , OPPOSE HB198 and title, SUPPORT SB391. That way if legislators do not open and read e-mails, they will see the titles when they scroll through their e-mails. Senate Energy & Telecommunications committee: Alan Olsen, Chair, Verdell Jackson, V-Chair, Shannon Augare, Ron Erickson, Jeff Essmann, Bob Lake, Lynda Moss, Jason Priest, Mitch Tropila, Kendall Van Dyk, Chas Vincent, Ed Walker
ajolson@midrivers.com; vjack@centurytel.net; shannonjaugare@aol.com; ron.senate@gmail.com; jessmann@mt.gov; lakemill@montana.com; lyndamoss@imt.net; jason@priest2010.com; tropila@mt.net; kvandyk@mt.gov; cvvincent@hotmail.com; ewalker@edwalker2010.com
Testifying before a legislative committee~ turn off cell phone~ sign sheet at the entrance of legislative room ~ Opening – “Good afternoon Chair Olson and members of the committee. For the record I’m Joe Smith, S-M-I-T-H (Spell out your last name)It’s permissible to read a testimony. When you are finished speaking, give a copy to the committee secretary. She will later provide copies for everyone on the committee.~ Testimony copy should provide, for example:Thursday, March 3Senate Energy & Telecommunications CommitteeHouse Bill 198Joe Smith, (profession/optional)(phone/e-mail/city/optional)Body of testimony~ Note: After proponents and opponents speak, you may be asked a question by a committee member, for example:Senator Doe – “Mr. Smith, What do you think about”…?Joe Smith – “Senator Olson and Senator Doe, I think”…Always address the chair and the Senator that asked you the question before commenting.

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