Understand That Easement Agreement Before You Sign It

Most electrical energy is transmitted throughout the county via high voltage overhead transmission lines. Most of these lines transmit high voltage alternating current. Newer renewable energy projects, however, require high voltage direct current lines, which allow energy to be transmitted efficiently over longer distances.  The projects, for example, provide for the transmission of electricity generated from wind generators in one part of the country to customers in another part of the county. To install overhead transmission lines, energy companies must file applications with the impacted states’ utility boards and receive authorization to proceed. Erecting these lines requires a company to obtain easements from the owners of the tracts through which the lines pass. If a state utility board deems the project to be for a proper public use, the applicable state law may allow the company to use eminent domain to acquire those easements.  The energy companies, however, will try to negotiate a voluntary easement before resorting to eminent domain.

Landowners presented with a proposed contract for the grant of an easement to an energy company, often have many questions. Landowners are advised to seek legal counsel and to attempt to negotiate the best terms possible. Most importantly, landowners should be sure that they understand the terms of any proposed agreement.

Roger McEowen and Kristine Tidgren of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation have created a presentation to give landowners a general understanding of the legal terms included in a typical proposed easement agreement. This presentation is intended to educate landowners regarding questions they should ask in evaluating these types of agreements. It is not intended to be legal advice or to serve as a substitute for obtaining legal counsel.


CALT does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. CALT's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.

RSS​ Facebook Twitter