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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Thursday, August 14, 2003


Virginia: Does an easement to run power lines across an owner's property also include fiber?

Virginia: Does an easement to run power lines across an owner's property also include fiber?

"A federal judge has allowed landowners to proceed as a class in their suit alleging that two Dominion Resources Inc. companies should compensate them for stringing cable across their properties. Dominion Virginia Power and Dominion Telecom contend that easements they obtained from the landowners for power lines also gave them the right to use the rights of way for the fiber-optic cable."

This article is a 'must-read' for any power utility installing fiber cable. In a nutshell, the answer to this question is "It depends ..."

It depends on local laws, the language of the individual easement agreements and on the usage of the fibers inside the cable (internal communications only, mixed internal and commercial resale, or purely commercial). It can also even depend on the cable type; OPGW (optical groundwire) is sometimes used instead of ADSS (all dielectric self-supporting) fiber cable for the simple reason that the OPGW actually conducts electricity (briefly during lightning strikes and system faults), making it part of the electric plant.

Consult a competent lawyer who understands these issues.


(Link from Scott Steve Minor via his weblog: [SW Virginia law blog])


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