Electric companies may soon have more power

Electric companies may soon have more power by Andrea Skalland Public utilities may soon be able to protect transportation and distribution lines without violating citizens rights.

The House passed a bill Feb. 1 that will allow public utilities to cut down tree branches or remove other potential hazards.

Rep. Kay Davis, D-Sioux Falls, introduced the bill saying that under current law the public utilities can be sued if branches are cut without the owner�s permission, but can also be in trouble if the branches go down and cause a fire. Davis said this bill would allow the utilities to take care of any possible problems caused by vegetation or other obstructions around power lines.

�When wind or storm comes up and the lines go down thousands of people are affected,� Davis said.

According to Davis, all the utility companies currently serving South Dakota are in favor of the bill.

HB1108 passed the House with a vote of 54-13.

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