San Jose, CA asked in Land Use & Zoning and Energy, Oil and Gas for California

Q: Is Entergy required to compensate landowners for timber they cut to install new power distribution towers?

Our property is a 100 year bald cypress-Tupelo wetland. They want to clear cut 2 acres of timber. The compensation offered by Entergy was a small percentage of total land value with out timber. Entergy is required to purchase Mitigation credits to move there project forward.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, utility companies like Entergy are generally required to provide just compensation to landowners when they acquire property rights, such as easements, for the installation of power lines and related infrastructure. This includes compensating landowners for any damages to their property, including the removal of timber.

However, the specific details of compensation can vary depending on the circumstances and the terms of the easement agreement. Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Fair market value: Landowners are typically entitled to receive the fair market value of the property rights being acquired, which should account for the value of the land as well as any timber or other resources on the property.

2. Timber value: If the timber on the property has significant value, the landowner may be entitled to additional compensation for the loss of that timber. This could be based on factors such as the species, age, and quantity of the trees being removed.

3. Mitigation credits: If Entergy is required to purchase mitigation credits as part of the project approval process, that is a separate issue from the compensation owed to the landowner. Mitigation credits are typically used to offset environmental impacts and are not a substitute for compensating landowners for their losses.

4. Negotiation: In many cases, the amount of compensation is determined through negotiations between the utility company and the landowner. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the matter may need to be resolved through legal proceedings, such as eminent domain.

If you believe that the compensation offered by Entergy is inadequate, you may want to consider seeking the advice of an attorney who specializes in property rights and eminent domain issues. They can help you understand your rights and negotiate a fair compensation package.

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