When we began to develop our 10 acres of New Mexico ranchland, it was equipped with a well, but no electricity. The realtor was vague about the matter, but said that we would want to work with other property owners to help defray the cost of getting power to the place. The seller stated on paper that there was no power at the property and was adamant that we perform "due diligence" to understand the situation.

Power polesI didn't see what the big deal was. A power line runs along Ranch Road just west of our property. You can see the poles from our western boundary. There is a recently built house to the southeast of us. Our survey documents show power easements along our north and east sides. I didn't see how getting power could possibly be a problem. I figured the buyer just wanted us to be clear that power wasn't there. The realtor provided us with a list of adjacent property owners, and I started making phone calls, performing what I guessed was due diligence.

The first person I talked to was one Mr. Stonewaller, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. He and his Missus own about 40 acres across the road from the section where our lot is. This didn't seem like a good sign. It's Washington, D.C. and its snotty suburbanites that I'm trying to get away from by going to New Mexico, after all, and here's just such a one with property close by out there.

I was at a disadvantage in this conversation because I didn't know what I was after. My obligation was to perform due diligence, but about what? Am I supposed to give somebody a power easement or am I supposed to get somebody to grant one to me? I didn't even know what questions to ask. I should have called one of the other property owners first, but I didn't know that. I just picked the first name on the list, which was Stonewaller's.

The conversation provided no useful information. I called the next name on the list. The phone number was disconnected. The third name was that of Craig and Jean, the people who live in the house to the southeast of our lot.

Paydirt! Jean explained the situation. Yes, there is a power pole up the road that was suitable for tapping into the power line. The problem is that the pole sits about 11" (yes, inches) over the property line of the land belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Stonewaller. The Stonewallers would not grant an easement to enable Craig and Jean to access the power grid from that pole. Getting power from the next pole up the road, which was on somebody else's land (someone who would grant an easement, by the way) required trenching over property belonging to two other landowners. It was not a suitable solution for Craig and Jean at the time they were building. They built off-the-grid with solar.

Jean thought there would be no harm in our approaching the Stonewallers to request an easement, but she wasn't sure it would do any good either. Neighbors to the north, Joe and Laurie, were then petitioning the Stonewallers for an easement and they weren't making any progress.