Washington Bulk Transmission Land Access(3-WA)
In order to develop transmission lines in Washington, developers must obtain any required right of way (ROW) easements or permits to encroach on or access existing state ROWs.
Developers must obtain a rights-of-way (ROW) permit or easement from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WSDNR) for construction or other activities on or over state lands. The relevant ROW process is regulated under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 79.36.350 (movement of valuable materials across state lands) and RCW 79.36.510 (utility lines). Ultimately, the WSDNR determines whether to grant an easement or permit. Permits are a permissive use of the land, revocable at will, and may not be assigned, transferred, or inherited. Easements are a legal grant of property rights that are assignable, transferable, inheritable, and non-revocable unless there are terms in the easement allowing termination or by mutual consent of both parties. The WSDNR permit/easement is not applicable to transmission lines within state highway ROW.
For the development of transmission lines within state highway ROWs, Washington grants a "utility permit" and/or "utility franchise" that functions as a Transmission Line Right of Way. A utility permit or franchise is required for occupancy of highway right of way by facilities, including private lines. The process is governed by WAC 468-34-160 and administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Depending on the access required, developers may need to obtain either a permit or franchise from the WSDOT. A franchise is necessary for longitudinal occupancy of highway rights of way. A permit is necessary for any occupancy of the highway rights of way other than by franchise. 
The requirements and permits needed for construction of an electric transmission line will vary by county and municipality. Some or all of the following elements may be necessary as they relate to land access:
- Above and below ground utility permit
- Road access permit
- Road maintenance agreement
- ROW permits
Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply
Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.
Permitting at a Glance
|State Land Right of Way Agency:||Washington State Department of Natural Resources|
|State Land Right of Way Process:||For construction of transmission lines over state land, project developers must obtain a right-of-way permit or easement from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Wash. Rev. Code § 79.36.350, Wash. Rev. Code § 79.36.510.|
|State Highway Right of Way Agency:||Washington State Department of Transportation|
|State Highway Right of Way Process:||Developers of transmission lines within state highway right-of-ways must obtain a "utility permit" or "utility franchise" from the Washington State Department of Transportation. Wash. Admin. Code § 468-34-160.|
|Eminent Domain:||Electric power corporations may exercise the right of eminent domain in acquiring "real estate and other property for right-of-way or for any corporate purpose." Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 80.32.060.|
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List of Reference Sources
- WAC - 468-34 - Utility Lines-Franchises and Permits (2007). 110(16)&(17)