Senate Study Bill 1088 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1relating to vegetation management by certain electric
2suppliers.
3BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:
1   Section 1.  NEW SECTION.  564.9  Electric suppliers —
2vegetation management.
   31.  For purposes of this section:
   4a.  “Electric distribution facility” means the facilities
5and equipment owned and operated by an electric supplier that
6are used to transmit electricity to ultimate usage points from
7interchanges with higher voltage transmission networks which
8transport bulk power over long distances.
   9b.  “Electric supplier” means any of the following:
   10(1)  A rural electric cooperative subject to chapter 499.
   11(2)  A city utility as defined in section 362.2, subject to
12regulation under section 476.1B.
   13(3)  A joint facility or electric power agency subject to
14chapter 390.
   15(4)  A public utility with an assigned area of service
16pursuant to section 476.25.
   17c.  “Vegetation” means any natural growth or vegetation,
18including but not limited to trees, brush, saplings, and
19bushes.
   20d.  “Vegetation management” means any act to manage
21vegetation, including but not limited to trimming, removing,
22spraying, or otherwise controlling the vegetation.
   232.  a.  An electric supplier that maintains or operates
24electric distribution facilities may engage in vegetation
25management within the legal description of a recorded easement
26to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of the
27electric distribution facilities. However, if the terms of
28a recorded easement prescribe limitations on an electric
29supplier’s ability to engage in vegetation management within
30the legal description of the recorded easement, the terms of
31the recorded easement shall control.
   32b.  In the absence of a recorded easement, an electric
33supplier may engage in vegetation management as follows:
   34(1)  For electric distribution lines capable of operating at
35thirty-seven kilovolts or less and located within the limits
-1-1of a city, within ten feet, plus one-half of the length of any
2attached cross arm, of either side of the centerline.
   3(2)  For electric distribution lines capable of operating at
4thirty-seven kilovolts or less and located outside the limits
5of a city, within thirty feet, plus one-half of the length of
6any attached cross arm, of either side of the centerline.
   7c.  Vegetation management undertaken pursuant to paragraph
8“b” shall be considered reasonable and necessary for the
9continued safe and reliable operation of the electric
10supplier’s electric distribution lines and shall create a
11rebuttable presumption, in claims for property damage, that
12the electric supplier acted with reasonable care, operated
13within its rights regarding the maintenance and operation of
14the electric distribution lines, and did not commit trespass.
   153.  Notwithstanding subsection 2, an electric supplier
16may engage in vegetation management beyond the activities
17authorized under subsection 2 in the following circumstances:
   18a.  The electric supplier is granted permission from the
19owner of the real property on which the electric distribution
20facilities are located to engage in vegetation management
21beyond the activities authorized under subsection 2.
   22b.  The electric supplier is granted a recorded easement
23that prescribes greater rights regarding vegetation management
24beyond those granted in subsection 2.
   25c.  The electric supplier deems that vegetation threatens
26the integrity and safety of the electric supplier’s electric
27distribution facilities and vegetation management beyond
28the activities authorized under subsection 2 is necessary
29to maintain the continued safe and reliable operation of
30the electric distribution facilities. Prior to undertaking
31vegetation management pursuant to this paragraph, the
32electric supplier shall notify the owner of the real property
33on which the vegetation is located at least fourteen days
34before the vegetation management occurs, unless the electric
35supplier deems that immediate action is necessary to ensure
-2-1the continued safe and reliable operation of the electric
2distribution facilities, or the action is in response to a
3major weather event or other emergency situation.
   44.  An electric supplier that engages in vegetation
5management pursuant to this section shall not be liable for
6treble damages under section 658.4.
   75.  This section shall not be interpreted to require an
8electric supplier to exercise any rights provided in this
9section.
10EXPLANATION
11The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
12the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   13This bill establishes new Code section 564.9, relating
14to the ability of certain electric suppliers to engage in
15vegetation management under specified circumstances.
   16 “Electric distribution facility” is defined as the
17equipment owned and operated by an electric supplier that
18is used to transmit electricity to ultimate usage points
19from interchanges with higher voltage transmission networks.
20“Electric supplier” is defined as a rural electric cooperative,
21a city utility, a joint facility or electric power agency, or a
22public utility with an assigned area of service. “Vegetation”
23is defined as any natural growth or vegetation, including but
24not limited to trees, brush, saplings, and bushes. “Vegetation
25management” is defined as any act to manage vegetation,
26including but not limited to trimming, removing, spraying, and
27controlling the vegetation.
   28The bill provides that an electric supplier that maintains
29or operates electric distribution facilities may engage
30in vegetation management within the legal description of a
31recorded easement to ensure the continued safe operation of
32the facilities. However, if the recorded easement limits the
33electric supplier’s ability to do so, the recorded easement
34controls.
   35The bill allows an electric supplier to engage in vegetation
-3-1management in the absence of a recorded easement in certain
2areas and locations, as specified in the bill. The bill
3provides that such actions shall be considered reasonable and
4necessary for the continued safe and reliable operation of
5the electric distribution lines and shall create a rebuttable
6presumption that the electric supplier acted with reasonable
7care, operated within its rights, and did not commit trespass.
   8The bill provides that an electric supplier may engage in
9vegetation management beyond the activities authorized under
10the bill if the electric supplier is granted permission from
11the landowner on which the electric distribution facilities are
12located to do so, the electric supplier is granted a recorded
13easement that prescribes greater rights, or the electric
14supplier deems that such action is necessary to maintain
15the continued safe and reliable operation of the electric
16distribution facilities, provided that the electric supplier
17notify the landowner at least 14 days in advance, unless the
18electric supplier deems that immediate action is needed or if
19the action is in response to a major weather event or other
20emergency situation.
   21The bill provides that an electric supplier that engages in
22vegetation management pursuant to the bill shall not be liable
23for treble damages for injury to trees under Code section
24658.4.
   25The bill provides that it shall not be interpreted to require
26an electric supplier to exercise any rights provided in the
27bill.
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