Owner of power line easement may install fibre optic cables without exceeding the scope of the easement

In a case applying what appears to be the majority rule, the Seventh Circuit held that an easement for power lines included the right to install lines for other purposes -- in this case fibre optic cables. West v. Louisville Gas & Electric Co., 951 F.3d 827 (7th Cir. 2020). The Texas Supreme Court rejected this approach, finding this kind of use to exceed the scope of the original easement, see Marcus Cable Associates v. Krohn, 90 S.W.3d 697, 699 (Tex. 2002), but most courts that have addressed the question have agreed that a right to pass electric lines over property includes the right to pass lines for other purposes, such as cable television.


This was true even though the original easement stated in its text that the easement was to place lines “for the transmission, distribution and delivery of electrical energy” -- a type of use that does not extend to Internet or cable television purposes. The grant did say that the transmission of electrical energy was for “light, heat, power, telephone, and/or other purposes” but that phrase suggested the reasons for transmission of electric power not an open-ended right to lay lines for any purpose. Nonetheless, as have most courts interpreting such easements, they have focused on the lack of any increased burden on the servient estate to conclude that new types of lines are within the scope of the original easement grant.