Reynolds/Topeka Transmission Line Frequently Asked Questions
This information has been compiled by Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. staff based upon questions received from members. Some of the information was acquired through discussions with representatives of NIPSCO. For answers to specific questions about the project, please contact a NIPSCO representative or your own counsel.
Why is this transmission line being built? - The line will enhance the reliability and capacity of the electric transmission network and allow better access to sources of electricity, including renewables such as wind and solar.
Is this project approved by the federal government? - The line is being constructed under authority of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). MISO was created with approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to form an independently operated regional transmission system. MISO has its own board of directors and is not operated by FERC. MISO determined that the line was needed as part of the long-term planning for its area of responsibility.
Is the route approved by any agencies? - There is no siting authority in Indiana to approve the project. NIPSCO utilized public open houses and outreach to obtain input regarding the project and proposed routes.
Will NIPSCO use eminent domain to acquire my property for construction? - NIPSCO will seek an easement over your property, not the actual purchase of the land. They will attempt to acquire the easement first by negotiation. If that process fails, they have the right to file for eminent domain.
Is this project covered under federal or state Eminent Domain? - Indiana law grants NIPSCO the power of eminent domain, but such rights are inherited from federal law.
Why is the existing transmission line not being used to hold more lines? - In its Transmission Expansion Plan, MISO required the installation of a new 345 kV transmission circuit to connect the Reynolds, Burr Oak and Hiple substations. It also required the capability for a second 345 kV circuit for future use. There are no existing transmission line facilities in place that connect the three substations or that have space for two additional circuits, requiring the construction of a new transmission line.
Will landowners have any ability to negotiate the footprint of the poles on their property? - Utility companies generally make efforts to accommodate the requests of landowners as part of the overall design of the project. However, they are not required to meet those requests.
How much distance will be between the lines where the new line parallels an existing line? - NIPSCO estimates that that the edge to edge distance between the wires will be 100’-200’ depending on the required clearances. However, final distances will depend on line design and specific conditions on the property where it is located.
Is it possible to line up poles for the existing line and a new line to reduce impacts on farming practices and irrigation? - The project design team will look at existing infrastructure in the design of the new line to minimize property owner impacts. However, the spacing of the existing towers is different than the new poles so existing towers and new poles will not be in alignment in all or not even most cases.
Is there any way for the towers to go down property lines or right next to them? - It is possible to place poles down property lines but whether it is done depends on the specific property and the line design. Placing the transmission line on property lines could also impact additional landowners.
Will NIPSCO need to come onto my land prior to acquiring the right of way? - NIPSCO will want to conduct a survey of the property to help them determine the actual route. It is possible that structures or conditions on the property such as wetlands or endangered species could impact the ability to site the line on your property. Prior to entering the property, NIPSCO will request the consent of the landowner.
How will I be compensated? - NIPSCO will make a good faith offer to acquire the easement. The landowner can accept or reject the payment and attempt to negotiate for more compensation. If a landowner rejects an offer, NIPSCO can file a condemnation lawsuit asking the court to set the amount of compensation and giving them the right to complete the work on your land.
What happens if a condemnation lawsuit is filed? - The court will appoint three disinterested appraisers to evaluate the value of the easement. The appraisers will file a report with the court showing their belief as to the fair market value of the property. The fair market value includes the improvements on the property, the damages to the remainder of the property, and damages from construction.
Will I be compensated for the loss of high production cropland or impacts to the use of my irrigation system? - You should seek compensation for loss of production, increased costs for irrigation improvements needed because of the construction of the line, and the loss of contracts which occur as a result of the line. You will need to provide evidence of the losses or the increased costs as speculative awards are rarely given.
Should I hire appraisers or attorneys to assist me? - You may want to hire an appraiser to provide an assessment of what fair market value is. You should also consult with an attorney prior to signing any documents or hiring other experts. It is always important that you hire individuals familiar with the issues you have.