We have just been told by an elderly landowner that they had been contacted by Clean Line and were told that the project was a done deal and that he has to come in and sign an easement. This could not be farther from the TRUTH!!!! If they ever get Public Utility Status, and they are a LONG way from getting that, then it would be crucial to consult with an attorney! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share this with elderly landowners especially those in nursing homes. Please share, if we had not talked with this landowner, he would have signed with Clean Line!!!!!
The "Code of Conduct" was plagiarized from the former Allegheny Energy (now multi-state energy holding company FirstEnergy), who used it for their TrAIL and PATH projects as a placebo to deny responsibility for shady land agent conduct.
The company hides behind its "Code," pretending that its contract land agents are supposed to follow it. When a land agent is caught in a violation, the company acts all shocked and "fires" the land agent. Responsibility for the violation is pinned on the land agent, not the company. Therefore, the company is free to continue to violate its own "Code" as many times as necessary.
Land Agents are trained in psy ops. Landowners usually resist utility overtures to purchase land or right of way. It's all a psychological game by the land agent to trick the unwilling or unwitting into signing on the dotted line. Land Agents attend continuing education sessions where they learn:
Understanding Behavioral and Personality Styles for Negotiation Success
Using practical and personal exercises, this session will provide attendees with a framework for understanding the behavioral and personality styles used for negotiation. Attendees will develop a better understanding of behavioral styles and how they can recognize and relate to the diverse styles of people they deal with.
With 20 years of experience in the right of way and land management consulting business, Dr. Mazie Leftwich is a nationally known presenter and corporate trainer in the energy industry. Dr. Leftwich serves as Director of the CLS Professional Development Institute and has been the catalyst behind CLS's extensive employee training, project training, and team-excellence programs for supervisors and managers. In addition to her work at CLS, Mazie maintained a limited private counseling practice for over 30 years, specializing in organizational and personal relationships and executive coaching. Her education includes a Bachelor in Psychology, a Master's in Administrative and Clinical Social Work and a Doctorate in Applied Psychology.
Land agents will say or do anything necessary to get their job done. The story from Missouri tells us that perhaps they will even lie and violate the "Code" of the company that contracts them. Perhaps the land agents even troll nursing homes, preying on the elderly. Nothing more despicable than that.
Remember, the "Code" was developed as part of a legal settlement between Allegheny Energy's TrAIL transmission company and the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate. The settlement was the end result of a vicious court battle over the reprehensible way landowners in Pennsylvania were lied to and manipulated by land agents.
The "Code" is not enforceable by any authority. It's a worthless piece of paper designed to give a false sense of security to landowners and regulators. However, please do document and report any violations to your state consumer protection authorities, such as your Attorney General, because any despicable tactics perpetrated will most likely be a violation of your state's consumer protection laws.
Just don't talk to land agents. There's no rush to enter agreements before a project has all its permits. If you sign early, the company will still have a right to your property, even if the transmission line is never approved or built. Do you really want that encumbering your property forever and making future sales or use difficult for you and your heirs?
There's plenty of time to negotiate a deal, with the recommended help of your own attorney, AFTER a project has all permits to begin construction. In fact, if you wait to negotiate, chances are that the price you will receive may be greater than folding early in the process. The longer you hold out, the more powerful your bargaining position becomes.
Don't be victimized by any possible Clean Line Grain Belt Express strong arm tactics that may be used. Get educated, and more importantly, educate your friends and neighbors!