Natural gas infrastructure, along with other utility infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines, requires long expanses of property in order for the lines to be installed. Placing infrastructure and related equipment on private and public property is often necessary to build and maintain our system. An easement is the legal agreement that gives Piedmont Natural Gas the right to use, not own, specific portions of land for certain purposes. Easements allow us to gain access to and use private and public property (parks, schools, civic centers, etc.) during the construction and maintenance of natural gas infrastructures. For many people, their first experience with an easement occurs when a public utility requires use of the owner’s property.
Good Faith Negotiation
When easements are needed, a Piedmont Natural Gas representative will contact property owners directly to discuss terms for acquiring access through their land. When terms of the easement agreement are reached, a legal document is drawn up and signed by the owners. The easement is then recorded in the county recorder’s office. Once an easement is granted, the property owner will maintain ownership of the property, subject to the easement rights granted to Piedmont Natural Gas.
Payment for these easements is negotiated between Piedmont Natural Gas and property owners at fair market values, depending on the size and location of the easement. Piedmont Natural Gas studies recent sales and values of comparable properties within a reasonable distance of the proposed infrastructure to get an idea of the market value of the land. The price paid for an easement will be based upon the value of the rights being acquired and the impact upon landowner use.
We will make every effort to explain figures fully and completely and will negotiate in good faith. The actual amount of compensation paid will be based on the specific conditions affecting the value of the property where the easement is located. This may cause easement pricing to vary between landowners.
During and After Construction
Landowners should expect the property to be disrupted temporarily during construction of the project. A Piedmont Natural Gas representative will contact property owners where easements are needed and work with these owners to identify any special concerns. The project installation will be performed within the easement area or public right of way, and there will be temporary road disruptions during the construction process.
Any property disturbed by construction will be restored in accordance with the easement agreement. All of this will be discussed in easement negotiations between property owners and Piedmont Natural Gas.
After the infrastructure is in operation, owners can use their property for all purposes that do not unreasonably interfere with Piedmont’s easement rights. For example, we will need to review any construction plans prior to installation of roadways and sidewalks. Other large permanent structures including but not limited to homes, garages and swimming pools are not allowed because we need to maintain access to this area for any future infrastructure work.
After the pipeline or other related infrastructure is installed, we may need to access the easement periodically for inspections and maintenance. We would be responsible for repairing any damage for which Piedmont is responsible under the requirements of the easement agreement.
To determine whether your property has an existing easement, check the deed to your house and look at the records at the county courthouse. The sale of a property usually includes a title search, which may reveal easements on your property.