By:Meredith Hillgartner –

FLOYD COUNTY, TX- Lyle Miller is a third-generation farmer, who has been farming in Floyd County for more than 50 years.

Miller is just one of many west Texas landowners who are in a battle with local utility companies.

In 2014, Excel Energy placed a 345,000 Kilovolt transmission line on his 5,000-acre farm. Miller said he did not mind, since the line was four miles away from his home.

In November, the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a new transmission route to be built by Sharyland Utilities, 186 feet away from the Millers’ home.

Miller said he received a piece of paper in the mail from the P.U.C. on the matter, but like many others, he did not take it seriously and threw it away.

After four months of negotiations, Miller said he wished he would have gotten involved from the beginning.

Brent Hamilton is the Millers’ lawyer. He is representing more than 20 families like the Millers. He said if landowners would come to the public discussion meetings, the utility companies will usually take their opinion into consideration when deciding which route to establish.

Instead, a route was selected without the Millers’ input, and the line was placed on their property.

Next Hamilton helped the Millers negotiate the placement of the line on their property. Besides being a visual encumbrance, the transmission line would impede the Millers’ drip irrigation system.

Wednesday morning the Millers were able to come to a new agreement with Sharyland Utilities. The line was deviated half a mile from its original route, moving it around the Millers’ home and away from the irrigation system.

Monetary compensation is awarded to landowners from the utility company, but Miller would not say what they agreed upon.

Miller said he wish utility companies would make the process more ‘farmer friendly.’ He said he wishes they would send certified mail to landowners letting them know of the seriousness of the situation.

Miller said he did appreciate the hard work and long hours Sharyland Utilities put in to come to a mutual agreement.

Hamilton said one of the issues is that landowners don’t know or understand the process. Hamilton said his firm specializes in power line and pipeline lawsuits as well as eminent domain.

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Hillgarter, Meredith “West Texas Landowners Take on Local Utility Companies” Source Website. Everything Lubbock, 2014.