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Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation March 2017 Issue
InAgLaw Hdr

Utility Easements Review

John Shoup
John Shoup

Given the discussion generated by SB 478, a bill under consideration by the Indiana General Assembly that broadens the scope of existing electric utility easements to include the placement of communications facilities and infrastructure to enable broadband connectivity in rural areas, it is a good time to take a second look how utility easements impact ownership interests in land.

INAgLaw recently commissioned attorney James Schrier of Lafayette to create a checklist titled “Utility Easements – Landowner’s Rights.” View checklist. Written from the landowner’s perspective, the checklist provides an excellent summary of considerations related to the placement of a utility line on private property. Landowners must understand the term, scope and impact an easement has on their legal rights. Mr. Schrier’s guide highlights key considerations in negotiating a utility easement.

One concern with SB 478 is that the scope of a negotiated, existing easement may be changed by statute. If passed, the bill may present both federal and state constitutional challenges based on the language of the easement. Expansion of broadband is clearly important to the rural economy. Hopefully a workable solution can be reached that balances the interests of landowners with the need for rural broadband.

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