Power Lines and Fairness in court costs!!


11 September 2000

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Legislative fight for fairness in court costs!! (McCord)..
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2000 15:39:15 -0500
From: Roy Beavers
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hi everybody:

.........Guru is VERY interested in the legislative fight described by Nancy McCord below. The present law in most states is the same as she describes in Virginia..... It is MOST unfair to property owners!!!

She is talking about a law that prevents property owners from collecting the costs of litigation (from the power company) as part of the "settlement" in 'eminent domain' cases -- those cases where the power company seizes property for power line easements.

Inability to recover the high costs of lawyers and expert witnesses, for example, is a HUGE obstacle to justice in these matters!!! Most property owners simply give up and don't fight because the legal costs, alone, can be prohibitive -- perhaps more than the property value!!

The power companies know that!!!! It gives them a tremendous advantage in the negotiations over the amount of compensation for the property that is taken. They rely on that huge advantage to bully and intimidate property owners into the acceptance of reduced value for their property.

They will even pursue a strategy (in the courts) which is designed to drive UP the legal costs ... knowing that they (the power companies) can afford to invest $$$$million$$$ more than the property owners......

The techniques include the filing of many (perhaps needless) motions that drive up the legal cost for the property owners ... or dragging out the lawyers "time" bills through delays. Another favorite device to drive up the cost is the hiring of "hired gun" expert witnesses, like Dr. John Moulder. His name regularly appears in cases where EMF damages are alleged -- though he is rarely called to court, because the property owners "give in" before the case goes to trial.... (Of course, he is still entitled to his fee.....) This imposes upon the property owner an obligation to find similarly qualified (and perhaps as costly) expert witnesses to present his side...... These witnesses, too, are entitled to be paid for their "consultation" even if they never appear in court.

The companies figure that all of this delay and added cost (forced upon both parties to the case) is worth it -- to intimidate other property owners, as well..... Besides, when the property owner is not allowed to sue the power company for the recovery of such costs ... the power company has nothing to lose and everything to gain......!!!

This "legal costs" matter is but one among a number of other injustices in the law of eminent domain that (in virtually all states) heavily "tilts the playing field" in favor of the power companies against the property owners......

These laws were written many years ago, starting in the 1920s and 1930s, when the utilities were "all powerful" in state legislatures...... These laws are desperately in need of updating with an eye to creating more fairness for property owners whose property is seized.....

Read more about this in Nancy's message below......


Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness..

People are more important than profit$$

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fw: Mail System Error - Returned Mail
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 23:45:24 -0400
From: "Nancy McCord" 
Reply-To: "Nancy McCord" 
To: "Roy Beavers" 

Dear Roy,

Thanks for the quick response and for posting the message. You provide a valuable conduit for those of us who are struggling with this problem. AEP has now moved the line in Virginia to an even more rural area of the state where the population does not have the resources either academic, Virginia Tech associates, or financial that we have around Blacksburg. The company recognizes no threat from EMFs and act like they are just being nice, generous to take anything within a total of 200' of the towers.

The most amazing position they take "with a straight face" is that powerlines do not damage property values. This is not complicated like EMFs, and because it is more easily understood, completely destroys their credibility. If they will distort the truth here then why should we believe them about EMFs. I could go on and on.

We are now in a battle to get our legislature to make the condemnor "reimburse property owner litigation expenses" if the court finds that the condemnor did not offer a fair price for the property taken for corridors. They have pulled out their big guns to fight us and won last year but the issue is still before the legislature, so we have another chance.

Keep up the good work for all of our sakes and thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: Roy Beavers 
To: undisclosed-recipients:; 
Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2000 10:45 AM
Subject: Width of Corridor for High Voltage 765kv Towers (McCord)...


I am sending this to the EMF-L list, as you suggest. However, as I wrote some years back (on my original web-site at FEB, I believe) -- ALL such existent right-of-way "rules" were established 50 or 60 years ago. They have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with the EMF hazards we know about today!!

Oh, you may get some feedback that certain power companies have become more "considerate" of the risk -- and have extended their right-of-way distance by a hundred feet or so.... But those are not mandated rules or regulations. Those are attempts by the industry to practice some "prudent avoidance" when it is CONVENIENT to do so......

And, to thereby "quiet" the public on the issue......

I am very doubtful that you will get back any information that will help you much..... I have known about that line in Virginia for years...... After all the trouble they have had about that -- I cannot imagine that they would try to build it with less than a 500 to 750 foot easement on each side of the center-line.........

As I wrote recently (it is on my website in "Current Messages, "I believe): when the public knows more about the true EMF hazards ... the public isn't going to believe the government standards, anyway...... The public is more likely to think in terms of miles than hundreds of feet.....

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Width of Corridor for High
Voltage 765kv Towers
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 11:25:57 -0400
From: "Nancy McCord" 
Reply-To: "Nancy McCord" 

Dear Roy and Fellow Concerned Citizens, Our legislature, in Virginia, is considering the possibility of requiring electric utilities to widen the corridors for high voltage 765kv powerlines. The required width now is 200 feet, and some of the utilities take any hone within another 100' of the corridor. I would appreciate any information you might send about corridor width in you area and if you know it, the justification the state used to determine this width. The only number I currently have is that in Maine a high voltage line can not be within 300' of a residential dwelling. Thank you very much for any assistance you may give. This is our one big chance in Virginia and as you can imagine, the utilities are fighting us all the way.

Nancy McCord

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