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Maine State Land Right-of-Way Overview (3-ME-b)

In Maine, a developer must obtain approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission (Maine PUC) and the applicable state land management agency to access state land for development. Generally, for easements or rights-of-way established after 1990 “[t]he owner of an easement or right-of-way does not have the right by implication to install utility services on or under the easement or right-of-way.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 33, § 458(1)(A)-(B). An easement or right-of-way is broadly defined to include “the right of a person to pass over the land of another person.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 33, § 458(2)(A). Similarly, “utility services” is defined as “facilities necessary for the transmission of electricity.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 33, § 458(2)(B). In practice, “utilities [generally] use existing land rights (easements and fee ownership interests) for new transmission lines.”



State Land Right-of-Way Overview Process

3-ME-b.1 to 3-ME-b.2 – Determine State Land Management Agency with Jurisdiction

Depending on where a project is located, a developer may need to correspond with different state land management agencies and fulfill various requirements to obtain a state land right-of-way. At the outset of a project, the developer should determine the land management agency having jurisdiction over the state land and contact the Maine PUC and appropriate state land agency. Generally, if a project crosses reserved or non-reserved public lands, the developer should contact the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands to initiate a state land right-of-way review process; and if a project crosses an existing energy infrastructure corridor, the developer should contact the Maine Interagency Review Panel.

3-ME-b.3 to 3-ME-b.7 – Does the Project Cross a Railroad?

If a project requires construction of transmission lines across or along a railroad, the developer may need to obtain a written permit from the person owning or operating the railroad. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 35-A, § 2311. If the developer and railroad owner cannot come to an agreement, either the developer or railroad owner can petition the Maine PUC to resolve the dispute. The Maine PUC’s decision will be binding on both the developer and the railroad owner. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 35-A, § 2311.

3-ME-b.8 to 3-ME-b.9 – Does the Project Cross MLUPC Land?

The Maine Land Use Planning Commission (MLUPC) has jurisdiction over parcels in twelve counties throughout the state. Jurisdictional zoning maps are provided on the Maine Land Use Planning Commission Webpage. If a proposed project crosses MLUPC land, developers should contact the MLUPC to determine what MLUPC permits are required. For more information, see:

Utility Line Permit:
8-ME-d

3-ME-b.10 to 3-ME-b.11 – Does the Project Cross State Reserved or Nonreserved Land?

If a project crosses Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (“DACF”) land, developers should contact the DACF to determine easement requirements. The DACF has jurisdiction over state lands including public reserved and nonreserved lands. Me. Rev. Stat. tit 12, § 1803(1)(B). For more information, see: Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry – State Land Easement:
3-ME-f

If the project does not cross DACF land, the developer should continue with the project in compliance with all state and local laws.


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