Identifying the pending powerline through the southern Sandhills as the "R-Project" is an appropriate moniker ... one which does not pertain to its approximate visual representation.
The name is more appropriate for rampant results which will ensue once construction occurs and the massive towers and drooping lines are imposed across the land. Do not doubt that the power transmission line won't get built. The entire process undertaken by the Nebraska Public Power District and the Southwest Power Pool has been focused upon a when, not if proposition.
This decision originated, as initially approved outside of Nebraska by agency bureaucrats associated with the regional power pool. NPPD agreed and continues to promote this project which will cost more than $300 million to construct.
There are a lot of r-words which pertain to this project which is a juggernaut which will not be stopped, despite any negative findings. It will ruin native habitats. It will destroy viewscapes. It will result in bird deaths. It will be a threat to threatened and/or endangered species. Etc.
NPPD has had public meetings. They have accepted public comment. The entire scenario is conveyed as being open an open process. the agency will convey some perspective to slight the concerns and indicate that their purposes are the most important facts to consider.
However, the agency has not even considered a no-build option!
Also of particular pertinence, currently, none of the information NPPD has garnered in association with this effort has been made available for public review and evaluation. Known details are whatever they want to convey.
What has been the involvement of state and federal environmental agencies? This status is unknown, and may be indicated in whatever environmental assessment that might be prepared and submitted to the public for scrutiny.
Presently, what are the details being considered to provide an acceptable transmission line corridor. These details are not known, not indicated in detail by the utility company. They listen and make a decision suited to their goal.
How might this powerline which will undoubtedly be built corridor be optimized in its placement to minimize overall impacts to the land? It would seem that a route associated with current features, such as along Highway 83 would work, but, based upon previous comments, NPPD would rather place a powerline elsewhere, because during a storm, two lines along a similar corridor would result in reduced service to customers.
And unforgettably, there has been nothing presented thus far as to how potential, and known impacts based upon historic context will be addressed.
The situation is considered as being an endeavor to "go green" as based upon some people's limited perspective, as very recently conveyed in more than one newspaper-published comment.
This juggernaut of ruination to sandhills' places will not be stopped. The result is one more, especially destructive insult, to the especially unique features of the region.
The three primary reasons for the powerline to be built, according to NPPD details, are:
1). Enhance operation
In reviewing the project website and through direct communication with NPPD reps, it has yet to be determined how a secondary powerline will enhance operation. The agency already provides service which they would probably convey as being "completely satisfactory" since the company could not provide service which was not satisfactory. What sort of enhancement is required for customers within this NPPD service area, and what is the utility company perspective which forces this perspective? A large kilowatt transmission line will not provide power to local customers, unless it is indirectly. This is another aspect which has not been well explained in readily available public information among the sparse details available on the companies website.
2) Relive congestion on existing lines
The existing lines apparently transit enough power to serve NPPD customers within this portion of their service area. If it didn't there would have been a multitude of customer complaints. Removing the congestion is a misnomer for providing more lines to promote and subsidize local power development, which is beyond the amount currently required for use by Nebraska power customers.
Company officials have not indicated weather threats and the influence of weather hazards, nor potential prairie fires, on existing power lines so they need to spread the threat?
It seems that because of "events of nature" that NPPD is considering how to spread powerlines across a greater expanse, because if they were located within a common corridor, they are alarmed that a single event might cause some power outages. So they prefer to spread the damage over a greater expanse?
If NPPD wanted a perfect power providing record, perhaps they should provide each of there customers with an electrical generator and a ready source of propane to operate them, so that no customer has to ever be without power?
Things happen and the company can never address them all!
3) Provide opportunities for development of renewable energy projects
This R-Project is nothing more than an obvious effort to enhance opportunities to take advantage of government subsidies to develop turbine facilities which currently work well to put public money into the pockets of developers and land-owners. How many dollars of public money are being spent in this endeavor?
It's quite obvious that some people nearby the R-Project corridor are interested in this project. A new transmission line will provide them a new means of economic return. The web-site of the Cherry County wind energy association men focused upon wind energy development makes this especially obvious.
The environmental armageddon associated with this massive and lengthy power transmission line will occur too soon. Viewscapes will be lost. Habitats will be fragmented. Wildbird mortality will occur because of birds striking wires spread across the skies, since a new barrier will be imposed across former wildlands.
Eventually, additional public and private property will be decimated by placement of wind turbines and service roads. There will be additional powerlines built to connect these facilities to the power line grid.
Will the power produced will be sent to places outside Nebraska, where there is already a surplus of electricity generated beyond the needs of state businesses and residents.
The incessant, yet obviously biased demand for more wind energy, will be done to the detriment of so many resources important to Nebraskans, and to a greater extent in this case, to the exquisite features spread about the dunes and valleys of the unique Sand Hills.
This project is wrought with problems, yet it will certainly be built. The transmission line is but the first obvious destructive event. Additional destruction and degradation will subsequently occur.
Appreciate the hills now because there are more efforts underway to industrialize this special land.