21 April 2014

Preferred Route for Industrial Powerline Across Sandhills

A preferred alignment for the massive "r-project" power transmission line through the sandhills was recently made available on the website of the Nebraska Public Power District.

The map document shows the alignment of the 220 mile line from south of Sutherland to the eastern edge of Wheeler county. Excluded from consideration is the option to run the massive power line westward from Thedford.

Basically the routh will go from Sutherland to Thedford and then eastward to its terminus.

“At this time, NPPD is pursuing the use of single pole structures with concrete foundations in easily accessible areas, such as along existing roads,” said senior project manager Craig Holthe of NPPD. “Lattice steel structures appear to be the best structure type in areas of challenging accessibility, where screw-in anchor type foundations can be used rather than concrete, resulting in less traffic impact to the property. Lattice structures may also reduce the need for heavy trucks during future maintenance activities.”

These are particular details determined by comparing the indicated route to land features shown on topographic maps.

The powerline would have a terminus at the coal-fired Gerald Gentleman Station on the south side of Sutherland Reservoir. The route then goes east and then northward, past the east side of the reservoir, crossing Interstate-80 and then the South and North Platte rivers. It then jogs a short distance west to avoid Birdwood Creek, and continues northward, until it turns east just south of West Birdwood Creek and parallels this creek, a short distance to the south.

As the corridor goes eastward about five miles south of the northern boundary of Lincoln county, it crosses Highway 97 and continues through the sandhills to Highway 83.

From this point northward, the lowerline cables and towers will be adjacent to Highway 83, on the east side of Stapleton, over the South Loup River and eventually across the Dismal River.

About three miles south of Thedford, it will shift eastward, cross the Middle Loup River, then shortly connect with the existing power substation along Highway 2. This facility will be upgraded as part of the project.

The line then continues northward, the corridor about two miles east of Highway 83 to within a mile of the north boundary of Thomas county.

Here, the line starts eastward. At this point, the line will be within about four miles of the proposed Thedford wind facility which would have 147 turbines on public and private property along the southern boundary of Cherry county.

The North Loup River will be crossed and the line will be on the north side of Purdum. Across Blaine county, the preferred route will be one mile south of the north county boundary. It will be strung across Goose Creek. West of Highway 7, it will continue eastward, a short distance south of Goldman Lake.

Upon reaching 2-3 miles within Loup county, the line will shift a mile northward, and run along the boundary of Loup and Rock counties.

In quick succession, the Calamus River, Skull Creek and Bloody Creek will be crossed. After going over Highway 183, Gracie Creek will be crossed,

Just to the south of the corridor is the primary, eastern extent Greater Gracie Creek Important Bird Area, as recognized years ago by the Audubon Society. There is also the Price Ranch conservation easement area which was recently designated.

Upon reaching Garfield county, the route will be moved a mile south of the county boundary. The shift will not be enough for the transmission line features to miss Carson Lake, as the towers and lines will go on the south side of the lake.

Carson Lake is known to have a great variety of waterfowl, and is one of the few natural lakes in the county.

Big Cedar Creek will be crossed near its channel by Highway 11, and in the immediate vicinity of the Rowse Rake manufacturing facility.

Further east, the line will split two lakes visible on aerial photographs, with the southern extent identified as Rush Lakebed on the topographic maps. The northern lake appears to have a greater extent of water. A short distance north, is Chain Lake, the third water body in this string of lakes.

After crossing Highway 281, the line will pass within one mile to the south of Goose Lake WMA. Clearwater Creek will also be crossed.

Four miles west of the east boundary of Garfield county, the line will again shift a mile north and continue along the county boundary (also 846th road), until moved about one-half mile north and into Holt county for the last five miles.

The other transmission line terminus will be at a to-be-constructed substation on the eastern boundary of Wheeler county, and in association with the existing Western Area Power Administration line.

Many of the land features mentioned in this review — as well as many smaller, and unnamed intermittent wetlands — are not shown on the "basic" map currently being provided by NPPD.

Six open-house meetings are planned, including:

  • Thursday, May 1- Thomas County Fairgrounds, 83861 Highway 83, Thedford, Neb.
  • Tuesday, May 6- Sandhills Public School (gymnasium), 107 Gandy Avenue, Dunning, Neb.

Further information is available at the NPPD website. Once a final route is selected, "formal public meetings" will occur in each county which the line would traverse.