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Court of Appeals Rules In Favor of Utilities – and Against Municipalities -- Regarding Rights to Locate Transmission Lines

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Ronald D. Richards Jr.
Foster Swift Municipal Law News
February 27, 2015

Our prior newsletters noted that a case was pending in the Michigan Court of Appeals regarding whether an electric utility may build a new transmission line project directly through a municipality – over the municipality’s objections. The battle started in the Michigan Public Service Commission. Oshtemo Charter Twp v MPSC et al. The matter then went to Michigan courts. The case stems from the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) decision to approve the utility’s request to build a new transmission line project through a Van Buren County township and a Kalamazoo County township. The proposal involves new transmission lines about 7 miles long with a 220-foot right-of-way running through the affected townships, and a new transmission substation. The Court of Appeals heard argument in November 2014, and issued its decision very recently. In short, the Court of Appeals decision affirmed the MPSC’s decision to grant the utilities a certificate to build an overhead transmission line, ruling in favor of the utilities. This case will surely impact municipalities’ handling of utilities’ requests to expand its easements or install new lines or equipment in Michigan municipalities.

Please contact attorney Ron Richards, Jr. at rrichards@fosterswift.com or 517.371.8154 with any questions you may have regarding rights to locate transmission lines.