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.