19 January 2013

Open Houses Held for Powerline Project

Plans for a new power-transmission line through the central and eastern sandhills are currently being considered, without any public decision on whether or not the line should be built.

The Nebraska Public Power District submitted a proposal stating that a new power transmission line was required, and indicated an approximate route. They got approval from the regional oversight authority, the Southwest Power Pool.

There was no public input involved in the decision.

Public hearings are now being held on the power-line project that will bring an industrial power line 220 miles long through the central and eastern Sand Hills. Known as the "R-Project," the moniker reflects a route which mimics the lower-case letter.

Its origin would be the Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland and would continue from there, basically northward into Cherry county, and then eastward to connect with another line near the boundary of Holt and Antelope county.

The currently unknown route would cross the Middle Loup River. Power lines would be strung across the North Loup River. In Cherry county it would go across a wetland area, designated as a "biologically unique landscape" by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. It would then extend eastward across Brown and Rock counties, and through the Elkhorn River headwaters, also a unique landscape.

Starting on January 14th, and continuing to January 22nd, the Nebraska Public Power District held six open houses concerning their plans to erect a 345,000-volt transmission line.

The open houses are "being held to inform the public of the project and collect landowner feedback on the study area," according to a NPPD press release. Company officials were interested in having land-owners indicate, according to their press release, local land use, pivots, wells, planned facilities, and other potentially, pertinent information.

These sessions occurred, for example, at Tyron, Halsey, Mullen, Ainsworth and Chambers. These localities are in close proximity to the potential powerline route, according to NPPD.

An indicated purpose of the transmission line is to "provide opportunities for additional renewable energy generation," according to a NPPD press release.

This statement indicates that the transmission line would provide a high-capacity powerline suitable for local wind turbine facilities to connect to the power grid. Any "wind farms" built within the region, would, at this time, include an unknown number of wind turbines and the requisite power line connections.

There has never been an option presented as to whether the transmission line should be built. The only consideration is a decision of the particular route.

Additional open houses will occur, according to NPPD, along with a final public hearing.

NPPD has already indicated an approximate time schedule for construction of the approximately $290 million project.