SB 794

  • Virginia Senate Bill
  • 2020 Regular Session
  • Introduced in Senate Jan 08, 2020
  • Passed Senate Feb 06, 2020
  • Passed House Feb 25, 2020
  • Signed by Governor Apr 10, 2020

Utility easements; location of broadband and other communications facilities.

Abstract

Utility easements; location of broadband facilities. Declares that it is the policy of the Commonwealth that (i) easements for the location and use of electric and communications facilities may be used to provide or expand broadband or other communications services; (ii) the use of easements to provide or expand broadband or other communications services is in the public interest; (iii) the installation, replacement, or use of public utility conduit, including the costs of installation, replacement, or use of conduit of a sufficient size to accommodate the installation of infrastructure to provide or expand broadband or other communications services, is in the public interest; (iv) the use of easements to provide or expand broadband or other communications services (a) does not constitute a change in the physical use of the easement; (b) does not interfere with, impair, or take any vested or other rights of the owner or occupant of the servient estate; (c) does not place any additional burden on the servient estate other than a de minimis burden, if any; and (d) has value to the owner or occupant of the servient estate greater that any de minimum impact; and (v) the installation and operation of broadband or other communications services within easements, appurtenant or gross, are merely changes in the manner, purpose, or degree of the granted use as appropriate to accommodate a new technology. The measure further provides that (1) absent any express prohibition on the installation and operation of broadband or other communications services in an easement that is contained in a deed or other instrument by which the easement was granted, the installation and operation of broadband or other communications services within any easement shall be deemed, as a matter of law, to be a permitted use within the scope of every easement for the location and use of electric and communications facilities and (2) subject to compliance with any express prohibitions in a written easement, any incumbent utility or communications provider may use an easement to install, construct, provide, maintain, modify, lease, operate, repair, replace, or remove its communications equipment, system, or facilities, and provide communications services through the same, without such incumbent utility or communications provider paying additional compensation to the owner or occupant of the servient estate or to the incumbent utility, provided that no additional utility poles are installed. The measure provides that any incumbent utility or communications provider may use a prescriptive easement to install, construct, provide, maintain, modify, lease, operate, repair, replace, or remove its communications equipment, system, or facilities, and provide communications services through the same, without such incumbent utility or communications provider paying additional compensation to the owner or occupant of the servient estate or to the incumbent utility, provided that no additional utility poles are installed. This bill is identical to HB 831.

Utility easements; location of broadband facilities. Declares that it is the policy of the Commonwealth that (i) easements for the location and use of electric and communications facilities may be used to provide or expand broadband or other communications services; (ii) the use of easements to provide or expand broadband or other communications services is in the public interest; (iii) the installation, replacement, or use of public utility conduit, including the costs of installation, replacement, or use of conduit of a sufficient size to accommodate the installation of infrastructure to provide or expand broadband or other communications services, is in the public interest; (iv) the use of easements to provide or expand broadband or other communications services (a) does not constitute a change in the physical use of the easement, (b) does not interfere with, impair, or take any vested or other rights of the owner or occupant of the servient estate, (c) does not place any additional burden on the servient estate other than a de minimis burden, if any; (iv) has value to the owner or occupant of the servient estate greater than any de minimis impact; and (v) the installation and operation of broadband or other communications services within easements, appurtenant or gross, are merely changes in the manner, purpose, or degree of the granted use as appropriate to accommodate a new technology. The measure further provides that (1) absent any express prohibition on the installation and operation of broadband or other communications services in an easement that is contained in a deed or other instrument by which the easement was granted, the installation and operation of broadband or other communications services within any easement shall be deemed, as a matter of law, to be a permitted use within the scope of every easement for the location and use of electric and communications facilities and (2) subject to compliance with any express prohibitions in a written easement, any incumbent utility or communications provider may use an easement to install, construct, provide, maintain, modify, lease, operate, repair, replace, or remove its communications equipment, system, or facilities, and provide communications services through the same, without such incumbent utility or communications provider paying additional compensation to the owner or occupant of the servient estate or to the incumbent utility, provided that no additional utility poles are installed. The measure provides that, in cases of a prescriptive easement, such easement is deemed to exist and that any incumbent utility or communications provider may use a prescriptive easement to install, construct, provide, maintain, modify, lease, operate, repair, replace, or remove its communications equipment, system, or facilities, and provide communications services through the same, without such incumbent utility or communications provider paying additional compensation to the owner or occupant of the servient estate or to the incumbent utility, provided that no additional utility poles are installed.

Utility easements; location of broadband facilities.Declares that it is policy of the Commonwealth that (i) existing easements forthe location and use of electric facilities be used to provide or expandbroadband services; (ii) such use of existing easements to provide or expandbroadband services is in the public interest; (iii) the use of such existingeasements for the provision of broadband services, where no additional polesare erected, does not constitute a change in the physical use of the easement,interfere with or impair any vested rights of the owner or occupier of theservient estate, or place any additional burden on the servient estate; and(iv) the installation and operation of broadband services within an existingelectric easement are merely changes in the manner, purpose, or degree of thegranted use as appropriate to accommodate a new technology. The measure alsoestablishes that in the absence of any express prohibition on the installationand operation of broadband services in an existing electric easement, theinstallation and operation of broadband services within the existing electriceasement shall be deemed as a matter of law to be permitted uses within thescope of every easement for the location and use of electricity facilities. Themeasure also limits the damages that a landowner may be awarded in any trespassaction against a public utility arising from the installation, maintenance, oroperation of any utility poles, wires, conduit, or other infrastructure orfiber optic cabling to the lesser of actual damages or $2,000 per landownerbringing a claim.

Bill Sponsors (3)

Votes


Actions


Apr 10, 2020

Office of the Governor

Approved by Governor-Chapter 1131 (effective 7/1/20)

Mar 12, 2020

Office of the Governor

Governor's Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., April 11, 2020

Senate

Enrolled Bill Communicated to Governor on March 12, 2020

Mar 05, 2020

House

Signed by Speaker

Senate

Signed by President

Senate

Impact statement from SCC (SB794ER)

Mar 04, 2020

Senate

Enrolled

Feb 27, 2020

Senate

Title replaced 20108506D-H1

Senate

House substitute agreed to by Senate (35-Y 3-N 1-A)

Feb 25, 2020

House

Read third time

House

VOTE: Passage (92-Y 7-N 1-A)

House

Passed House with substitute (92-Y 7-N 1-A)

House

Engrossed by House - committee substitute SB794H1

House

Committee substitute agreed to 20108506D-H1

Feb 24, 2020

House

Passed by for the day

Feb 21, 2020

Senate

Impact statement from SCC (SB794H1)

House

Passed by for the day

Feb 20, 2020

House

Read second time

Feb 18, 2020

House

Reported from Labor and Commerce with substitute (21-Y 0-N)

House

House committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered

House

Committee substitute printed 20108506D-H1

Feb 13, 2020

House

Read first time

House

Placed on Calendar

House

Referred to Committee on Labor and Commerce

Feb 11, 2020

Senate

Impact statement from SCC (SB794S1)

Feb 06, 2020

Senate

Committee substitute agreed to 20106150D-S1

Senate

Reading of substitute waived

Senate

Read second time

Senate

Read third time and passed Senate (40-Y 0-N)

Senate

Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N)

Senate

Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB794S1

Feb 05, 2020

Senate

Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N)

Feb 03, 2020

Senate

Incorporates SB302 (Stanley)

Senate

Committee substitute printed 20106150D-S1

Senate

Incorporates SB539 (Peake)

Senate

Reported from Commerce and Labor with substitute (14-Y 0-N)

Jan 17, 2020

Senate

Assigned C&L sub: Energy

Jan 15, 2020

Senate

Impact statement from SCC (SB794)

Jan 08, 2020

Senate

Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/20 20104980D

Senate

Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor

Bill Text

Bill Text Versions Format
Impact statement from SCC (SB794) HTML
Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB794S1 HTML
Impact statement from SCC (SB794H1) HTML
Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB794ER) HTML
Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP1131) HTML

Related Documents

Document Format
No related documents.

Sources

Data on Open States is updated nightly from the official website of the Virginia General Assembly.

If you notice any inconsistencies with these official sources, feel free to file an issue.