By Marcy Stamper
Oral arguments in the state’s challenge to the PUD’s efforts to condemn state land for the Pateros-Twisp powerline have been scheduled before the Washington Supreme Court for Feb. 25, 2014, at 1:30 p.m.
Attorneys for the two parties—the Okanogan County Public Utility District and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark—are allotted 20 minutes each for oral arguments.
Goldmark contends that state law does not permit the PUD to condemn land for the transmission line, arguing that he has a responsibility to preserve the habitat in question.
The PUD contends that the powerline serves a necessary public use and is compatible with the state’s current use of the land, some of which is leased for grazing. The Okanogan County Superior Court and the Court of Appeals both ruled in the PUD’s favor.
The PUD began condemnation proceedings three years ago, after being unable to negotiate an easement with DNR for a 100-foot strip across 12 miles of state land for the powerline.
The Supreme Court’s ruling could be the final phase in the decade-long court battle over the Methow Transmission Project, which would extend 28 miles from Pateros to Twisp and create a second route to bring power to the Methow Valley, supplementing the 65-year-old powerline over Loup Loup Pass.