This week, the Houston Chronicle reported on two proposed bills in Texas right now that could offer protection to homeowners from property value loss after the installation of nearby electric transmission towers.

State Senator Larry Taylor introduced a bill that would force utility companies to notify all nearby homeowners before making upgrades to towers. It would also require the utility companies to hold public hearings before making transmission upgrades too. Meanwhile, State Representative Ed

Thompson filed a bill that would help homeowners recover damages from lowered property values that are the result of these utility projects. Thompson’s bill is a response to Silverlake residents’ anger and frustration after CenterPoint Energy added transmission towers along an easement that cuts through Silverlake, near Pearland. The Silverlake residents were given no warning about the 14-mile transmission upgrade. Now, residents say that their property values for nearby homes have plummeted. One resident told the Houston Chronicle that his home value was slashed by almost 25 percent after the transmission upgrade.

The current law only lets landowners get compensation if utilities actually directly cross their property. Some lawmakers say that that isn’t protection enough, because the right to seek compensation doesn’t apply to others living nearby who still suffer property value loss after utility towers are installed. The new bill would let homeowners near easements file claims for damages using a process similar to eminent domain rules. Currently, state law doesn’t even require that that utilities provide notice of key project details to the public. Taylor’s bill would change that.

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