In their defense, power company Altalink's engineer, Darin Watson, said he was "absolutely appalled" by the actions of the land agent. He said the land agent in question was terminated and that an investigation is underway into this land agent's activity with other property owners. The third party company that the land agent worked for has also been "suspended" from further work for Altalink on the project.
Sound familiar? That's also exactly what happened in Pennsylvania during the TrAIL case. Land agent intimidation and misrepresentation was dealt with in the exact same fashion by Allegheny Energy. The power company denied responsibility for their third-party contractor, terminated guilty land agents, and canceled their contract with the land acquisition company.
We have also seen evidence of the same kind of land agent strong arm tactics and deception in the PATH case (just read the WV-PSC docket, Case No. 09-0770-E-CN).
Third party land acquisition companies are just another tactic in the power company playbook. The power companies know that the only way to coerce landowners into signing agreements that are not in their best interest is through trickery and intimidation. They purposefully use third party contractors to do it so that they can bat their eyelashes and play innocent when land agent tactics are exposed. They can "punish" the contractor/land agent and absolve themselves of any responsibility in the matter. No wonder these land acquisition companies are so well paid, the risk of being caught in deception and "fired" is probably a known part of their contract, and certainly part of the overall game.
Read more about the citizens' struggle with the Heartland Transmission Project here. You will recognize many similarities between their struggle and ours. The Power Company Playbook is international, however it is also getting much too familiar and therefore easier to subvert by citizens affected by transmission line projects.