The power of eminent domain authorizes the government to take private property for public use if there is an associated direct or indirect public benefit. Since the 1950s, eminent domain has been used by the government and private interests if the primary objective of the taking leads to a scheme that will eventually promote economic development, public welfare, or advantage. According to Missouri statute, private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation and that the compensation shall “be ascertained by a jury or board of commissioners of not less than three freeholders, in such manner as may be provided by law; and until the same shall be paid to the owner, or into court for the owner, the property shall not be disturbed or the proprietary rights of the owner therein divested.” House Bills 1876 & 2005 further specify that the Public Service Commission cannot issue an approval for a merchant line without a resolution of support passed by the county commission in each county through which the merchant line will be built. The bills also specify that no entity in Missouri would have the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing merchant lines, unless they are rural electric cooperatives or electrical corporations operating under a cooperative business plan.
This Note has been updated. You can access the previous version (published November 2020) here.