§ 901 Location of lines; eminent domain.
(a) Any telegraph corporation, any telephone corporation or any corporation using lines or wires for the transmitting of electrical current, whether created by prior special act or organized under Chapter 1 of Title 8, may erect, construct and maintain its telegraph or telephone lines or its wires for transmitting electrical current and the necessary fixtures for the same through and across or under any of the canals and canal lands, rivers or other waters and also along any highways within the limits of this State, outside of highways within the limits of and maintained by incorporated cities and towns, subject to the approval or authority of the public authority having charge or control of such highways and also subject to the right of the owners of the fee on such highways and to the owners abutting upon such highways to full compensation to the extent that their property is taken or burdened.
(b) Whenever any such corporation cannot agree with any such owner as to purchase or damages, the corporation may proceed for the condemnation of any such franchises, easements, canals, canal lands, rivers or other waters or highways or burdens imposed upon landowners abutting upon any highways whether owners of the fee in the bed of such highways or not in manner prescribed by Chapter 61 of Title 10.
(c) All new extensions within a subdivision of electric distribution, telephone, and telegraph lines applied for after July 7, 1970 and necessary to furnish permanent service to new residential buildings in a subdivision having 5 or more building lots or to new multi-occupancy buildings, shall be placed underground, except in situations where the Public Service Commission of Delaware determines that the placing of such utility lines underground is not feasible from an economic, engineering or physical standpoint. Such extension of service shall be made by the utility in accordance with its rules and regulations which must be approved by the Delaware Public Service Commission.
§ 902 Powers and duties of telegraph and telephone corporations; regulation of use of public roads, streets, etc.
(a) Any telegraph or telephone corporation organized under Chapter 1 of Title 8, in addition to the powers conferred upon corporations generally, may occupy and use the public streets, roads, lanes, alleys, avenues, turnpikes and waterways within this State, or elsewhere, if it extends its lines and business, for the erection of poles and wires or cable or underground conduits, portions of which they may lease, rent or hire to other like companies.
(b) Before entering upon any street, road, lane, alley, avenue, turnpike or waterway the consent of the authorities having jurisdiction thereof shall have first been obtained and the same shall be used and occupied under such rules and regulations as are prescribed by such authorities.
(c)(1) The portions of the surfaces of the streets, avenues or alleys disturbed in laying the wires, cables or underground conduits shall be immediately restored to their original condition and any pavements which are removed for the purpose of laying or repairing the wires, cables or underground conduits shall be restored to as good condition as they were previous thereto and so maintained for 6 months after the completion of the work.
(2) In case of failure on the part of the corporation to so restore and maintain the same, the proper authorities having supervision of the streets, avenues and alleys may properly restore and maintain the same and the cost thereof may be recovered by the city, town or district from the corporation in any court of competent jurisdiction.
(d)(1) All posts or poles which are erected by authority conferred by this section shall be so located as in no way to interfere with the safety or convenience of persons traveling on or over the roads and highways.
(2) All wires fastened upon posts or poles so erected shall be placed at a height of not less than 18 feet above all road crossings except that the owner of said wires shall be solely responsible for removing them to whatever height necessary to eliminate any visual obstruction or any other interference between said wires and their appurtenances, and any traffic control device.
(e) The work shall be done at no cost to the Department of Transportation.
(f) That Department shall be the sole judge of the need to move the wires or appurtenances.
(g) All wires shall be not less than 23 feet above railroad crossings.
(h) No posts or poles shall be erected upon the soil or property of any person without first obtaining the written consent of the owner thereof.
§ 903 Consolidation of telegraph or telephone corporations.
(a) Any telegraph or telephone corporation of this State, whether created by prior special act or under Chapter 1 of Title 8, may consolidate with any other telegraph or telephone company incorporated under the laws of this State, or any other state, or of the United States, whose telegraph or telephone lines, within or without this State, connect or form continuous lines with the telegraph or telephone lines of the company so consolidated, subject to the provisions of Chapter 1 of this title. Such consolidation shall be made in the manner and by the proceedings prescribed in Chapter 1 of Title 8.
(b) The corporation created thereby shall be possessed of, exercise and enjoy all the rights, powers and privileges which Chapter 1 of Title 8 confers upon consolidated companies. It shall likewise be possessed of and exercise and enjoy all the franchises, rights, powers, privileges, immunities and benefits which any corporation of this State, constituent thereof, was possessed of or entitled to exercise under its charter or any law of this State. It shall be subject within this State to the conditions and restrictions imposed by its charter on any corporation of this State, constituent thereof.
§ 904 Number of telephones on 1 line; penalty.
(a) No person or corporation operating, controlling or owning any telephone lines within this State known as party lines and for which the regular charge for separate telephones is at the rate of $20 or more per year shall have more than 8 telephones upon any 1 line.
(b) Whoever violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not less than $25 nor more than $100 for each offense.
§ 905 Placement of telegraph wires.
Telegraph wires shall be attached to the poles at least 12 feet above the ground except where they enter a house. If any agent of a telegraph company having supervision of the line suffers this provision to be violated for 10 days after notice by mail directed to him at the post office nearest his residence, he shall forfeit and pay $20 to anyone who will sue for the same.
Code 1852, §§ 2883, 2884; Code 1915, § 4766; Code 1935, § 5229; 26 Del. C. 1953, § 905.;
§ 906 Powers and duties of electric utility corporations; regulation of use of public roads, streets, etc.
(a) Every corporation organized under Chapter 1 of Title 8 for the purpose of constructing, maintaining and operating works for the supply and distribution of electricity for electric lights, heat or power, in addition to the powers conferred upon corporations generally, may use the public roads, highways, streets, avenues and alleys in this State for the purpose of erecting posts or poles on the same to sustain the necessary wires and fixtures. The consent of the council, town commissioners or other persons having control over the public roads, highways, streets, avenues and alleys of the city, town and district in or upon which the posts or poles are to be erected shall first, and as a condition precedent, be obtained.
(b) No posts or poles shall be erected in any street of any city or incorporated town except in those streets which are designated by the authorities thereof and then only in such place and manner as is thus designated, and the same shall be so located as in no way to interfere with the safety or convenience of persons traveling on or over the streets, highways and roads. The use of the public streets in any of the cities and incorporated towns of this State shall be subject to such regulations and taxation as may be first imposed by the corporate authorities of such cities and towns.
(c) No posts or poles shall be erected upon the soil or property of any person without first obtaining the consent in writing of the owner of the soil or property.
(d) Any wire crossing a railroad shall not be at a less elevation than 23 feet.
§ 907 Laying pipes, conduits or wires by electric utility corporations.
Every corporation mentioned in § 906 of this title may lay pipes, conduits or wires beneath the public roads, highways, streets, avenues and alleys as it deems necessary. The pipes, conduits and wires shall be laid at least 2 feet below the surface of the same and shall not in any way unnecessarily obstruct or interfere with public travel or damage public or private property. No public streets shall be opened for such purpose without the consent of the counsel of any city, or the town commissioners of any incorporated town, or other persons having control over the public roads, highways, streets, avenues and alleys. Such use of the public streets in any of the cities and towns of this State shall be subject to such regulations, taxation and restrictions as may be first imposed by the corporate authorities of such cities and towns.
§ 908 Easements for public utilities across railroad property, rights-of-way, or occupations.
Any public utility operating within the State may acquire a utility easement for its public use in accordance with Chapter 61 of Title 10 whenever all the following conditions are met:
(1) The property on, over, under, along or across which the public utility easement is to be established:
a. Was previously owned by a railroad company, including a successor whose ownership interest derives, directly or indirectly, from the abandonment of the property use by a railroad company, or
b. Was subject to an easement, right-of-way or occupation for railroad purposes; and
(2) The railroad company's property interests have been extinguished by abandonment or otherwise; and
(3) Immediately prior to the time such railroad company's property interests were extinguished, a public utility held an easement, license, right-of-way, permission or occupation for public utility purposes that had been obtained from the railroad company; and
(4) The public utility and any owner or owners of the property cannot agree as to the terms and conditions of the acquisition by the public utility of a property interest for use for public utility purposes; and
(5) The property on which the utility easement to be acquired is not owned by the State or any of its agencies or political subdivisions; and
(6) The public utility exercises this authority in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 95 of Title 29.
§ 909 Special duties of electric utility corporations organized as cooperatives.
(a) For the purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) "Cooperative electric utility'' shall mean an entity incorporated in the State that is engaged primarily in providing electric service on a cooperative basis.
(2) "Member'' shall mean any person currently or previously receiving electric service from a cooperative electric utility.
(3) "Nonescheat capital credits'' means moneys due to any past member of a cooperative electric utility in retirement of capital allocated on a patronage basis to the account of such member for amounts received and receivable by the cooperative from the furnishing of electric energy to such member in excess of operating costs and expenses properly chargeable against the furnishing of electric energy, provided that a 5-year period has elapsed since such credits were retired and the members to which such amounts were allocated have not claimed them.
(b) A cooperative electric utility shall use all nonescheat capital credits, net of claims pursuant to subsection (g) of this section, to fund low income energy assistance programs in its service area and to donate to such nonprofit charitable and community organizations as shall be authorized by the Board of Directors.
(c) Nonescheat capital credits shall be expended within 3 calendar years after being deemed nonescheat capital credits. Nonescheat capital credits not expended within 3 calendar years shall be remitted to the State Escheator in the same manner as all other property subject to Chapter 11 of Title 12.
(d) Cooperative electric utilities shall submit a written report to the Division of Revenue of the retired capital credits going unclaimed during the previous calendar year no later than January 20 of each year.
(e) Cooperative electric utilities shall make available the name, last known address and credit amount owed to past members requesting such information. In addition, the utility shall prominently display in all marketing materials directed at current and/or prospective members the name, office address and phone number of the individual or individuals within the corporation responsible for processing past member claims for the return of capital credits. Such information shall also be included in the annual report, the notice of the annual meeting and on any Internet site or sites maintained by the cooperative electric utility.
(f) In the event a cooperative electric utility ceases to do business in this State, or elects to recognize as a noncooperative business, all outstanding nonescheat capital credits shall be remitted to the State Escheator in the same manner as all other property subject to Chapter 11 of Title 12.
(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve a cooperative electric utility from refunding nonescheat capital credits on application by past members. Past members of a cooperative electric utility may file a claim for the return of funds deemed nonescheat capital credits, allocated to them at the time they were members. The cooperative electric utility shall provide standard claim forms with which all such members can file for a return of their nonescheat capital credits. No provision of a contract or agreement between the cooperative electric utility and a member or any statute of limitations shall limit the time period in which such a claim may be filed.