RAPID/BulkTransmission/Washington/Land Access

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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. WAC - 468-34 - Utility Lines-Franchises and Permits.

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

More Information

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

Washington Federal

State Land Right-of-Way: Any corporation, company, association, or individual may need a State Land Easement to construct any transmission project through, over and across any state lands or state forestlands. R.C.W. § 79.36.510. Any person may also need a State Land Lease to access state land. R.C.W. § 79.13.010(1).
State Land Right-of-Way Agency: Washington State Department of Natural Resources, State agency with jurisdiction
State Highway Right-of-Way: Utilities may need Utility Permit or Franchise to construct a utility facility in a highway right-of-way. Wash. Admin. Code. §486-34-160. A utility is “a term denoting electric power…and similar lines.” Wash. Admin. Code. §486-34-110.
State Highway Right-of-Way Agency: Washington State Department of Transportation
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.