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News Analysis

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 2000

they wanted to use it for, when in fact, easements vary. Moroney, however, thinks companies no longer are ignorant of this potential problem, and that most easements allow for multiple or ancillary uses anyway. He acknowledges, however, that companies do need to examine each individual easement before doing anything new with their right-of-way, to avoid costly legal problems in the future.

Of course, if an energy company has foresight, it planned for a multi-use right-of-way when it first built its pipeline. "They do it the right way [when a company first acquires the easements], so that in the future, what they have is a good asset," Allen says.

Even if a right-of-way isn't perfectly "clean," a pipeline company can perfect it for fiber cable to enhance the value of its asset. "[Even if] you've got an existing right-of-way, you need to go out and improve it," Moroney says.

Has the Train Left the Station?

To anyone who thinks that the need for pipeline rights-of-way is peaking right now, Moroney says categorically, "I don't believe it."

And the market may yet climb higher. "Right now, I see no end to it," Moroney adds. "We're really only beginning to scratch the surface of demand."

Sure, he says, the "hot spot" in the area of rights-of-way demand will continue to swing back and forth between long-haul and local, urban routes, and there will be peaks and valleys in both areas, but he sees no end in sight.

Joe Kraemer, on the other hand, is more cautious. "You can't pull a Hamlet and stare off into space [saying] 'To be or not to be,'" he contends. At some point, the partners will be gone. The telecommunications carriers will solve their own right-of-way problems. Kraemer predicts that intercity construction will "settle back down" in about two years.

Carl J. Levesque is associate editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly.

1 For more information on the study, contact Karnel Thomas at 202-872-0030.

2 To receive a copy of Kraemer's article, contact Peggy Ray at 202-828-3926 or pray@haglerbailly.com.

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