House File 460 - 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.
   15d.  Prior to undertaking vegetation management pursuant to
16this subsection, the electric supplier shall use reasonable
17diligence to notify the owner and person in possession of the
18real property on which vegetation management will occur of the
19electric supplier’s intent to undertake vegetation management
20and the type of vegetation management activity the electric
21supplier will undertake.
   223.  Notwithstanding subsection 2, an electric supplier
23may engage in vegetation management beyond the activities
24authorized under subsection 2 in the following circumstances:
   25a.  The electric supplier is granted permission from the
26owner of the real property on which the electric distribution
27facilities are located to engage in vegetation management
28beyond the activities authorized under subsection 2.
   29b.  The electric supplier is granted a recorded easement
30that prescribes greater rights regarding vegetation management
31beyond those granted in subsection 2.
   32c.  The electric supplier deems that vegetation threatens
33the integrity and safety of the electric supplier’s electric
34distribution facilities and vegetation management beyond
35the activities authorized under subsection 2 is necessary
-2-1to maintain the continued safe and reliable operation of
2the electric distribution facilities. Prior to undertaking
3vegetation management pursuant to this paragraph, the
4electric supplier shall notify the owner of the real property
5on which the vegetation is located at least fourteen days
6before the vegetation management occurs, unless the electric
7supplier deems that immediate action is necessary to ensure
8the continued safe and reliable operation of the electric
9distribution facilities, or the action is in response to a
10major weather event or other emergency situation involving
11electric service in the area that has been interrupted and
12needs to be restored.
   134.  An electric supplier that engages in vegetation
14management pursuant to this section shall not be liable for
15treble damages under section 658.4.
   165.  This section shall not be interpreted to require an
17electric supplier to exercise any rights provided in this
18section.
19EXPLANATION
20The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
21the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   22This bill establishes new Code section 564.9, relating
23to the ability of certain electric suppliers to engage in
24vegetation management under specified circumstances.
   25“Electric distribution facility” is defined as the equipment
26owned and operated by an electric supplier that is used to
27transmit electricity to ultimate usage points from interchanges
28with higher voltage transmission networks. “Electric supplier”
29is defined as a rural electric cooperative, a city utility, a
30joint facility or electric power agency, or a public utility
31with an assigned area of service. “Vegetation” is defined as
32any natural growth or vegetation, including but not limited to
33trees, brush, saplings, and bushes. “Vegetation management”
34is defined as any act to manage vegetation, including but not
35limited to trimming, removing, spraying, and controlling the
-3-1vegetation.
   2The bill provides that an electric supplier that maintains
3or operates electric distribution facilities may engage
4in vegetation management within the legal description of a
5recorded easement to ensure the continued safe operation of
6the facilities. However, if the recorded easement limits the
7electric supplier’s ability to do so, the recorded easement
8controls.
   9The bill allows an electric supplier to engage in vegetation
10management in the absence of a recorded easement in certain
11areas and locations, as specified in the bill. The bill
12provides that such actions shall be considered reasonable and
13necessary for the continued safe and reliable operation of
14the electric distribution lines and shall create a rebuttable
15presumption that the electric supplier acted with reasonable
16care, operated within its rights, and did not commit trespass.
   17The bill requires that, prior to undertaking vegetation
18management, the electric supplier shall use reasonable
19diligence to notify the owner and person in possession of the
20real property on which vegetation management will occur of the
21electric supplier’s intent to undertake vegetation management.
   22The bill provides that an electric supplier may engage in
23vegetation management beyond the activities authorized under
24the bill if the electric supplier is granted permission from
25the landowner on which the electric distribution facilities are
26located to do so, the electric supplier is granted a recorded
27easement that prescribes greater rights, or the electric
28supplier deems that such action is necessary to maintain
29the continued safe and reliable operation of the electric
30distribution facilities, provided that the electric supplier
31notify the landowner at least 14 days in advance, unless the
32electric supplier deems that immediate action is needed or if
33the action is in response to a major weather event or other
34emergency situation involving electric service in the area that
35has been interrupted and needs to be restored.
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   1The bill provides that an electric supplier that engages in
2vegetation management pursuant to the bill shall not be liable
3for treble damages for injury to trees under Code section
4658.4.
   5The bill provides that it shall not be interpreted to require
6an electric supplier to exercise any rights provided in the
7bill.
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