Impact of High Voltage Transmission Lines on Property Values
electric power lines

Because there are likely to be many more high voltage electric transmission lines (HVETL) constructed, it is important to focus on the impact these lines may have on commercial property values.

The challenge is that the research is spotty and is more focused on residential than commercial properties, leaving individual business property owners to fend for themselves when a HVETL is proposed. 

Against this backdrop, an interesting article was published in The Appraisal Journal in 2019, the prestigious publication of the Appraisal Institute, entitled “High-Voltage Transmission Lines and Residential Property Values in New England: What has Been Learned.”   Author Dr. James A. Chalmers reviewed 12 studies targeting thousands of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire residential properties.  He concluded that only a very small number of parcels were adversely affected, usually when they were in close proximity to and had an unobstructed view of the lines.  The overwhelming majority of the properties studied produced a “uniform result of no statistically significant proximity, visibility, or encumbrance effects,” Dr. Chalmers reported.

Commercial properties proximate to an existing HVETL usually make difficult study assignments because of the lack of adequate data and the differences between commercial properties which reduces the ability to estimate impact. 

In the case of construction of a new line, there is almost certainly going to be some impact on a commercial property beyond the actual easement required by the utility company. 

Construction of a HVETL through a developed parcel is more difficult to measure in terms of damages/reduction of value than in the case of an undeveloped property.  Establishment of a new line on the perimeter is also likely to reduce impact. 

In this writer’s experience, the key issue is the impact of the HVETL on the balance of the property not required for it. Estimating impact requires an evaluation of the facts and circumstances of each project.  A commercial property owner facing the construction of a new or augmented HVETL over its property should be proactive and retain the experts necessary to gather data and to research the issues. 

Remember that Connecticut utility companies have eminent domain powers – although the procedures they must follow tend to be more cumbersome than those applicable to public authorities.  Negotiation of the dollar impact of an HVETL on a property, instead of litigation, is usually the better way to go.

Posted in Property Tax

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