Nebraska Public Power District is set to host a second round of open houses to provide information and seek public input on the 220-mile-long R-Project transmission line, proposed for completion by 2018.
A series of open houses offering information on the project were hosted by NPPD across the state last January. New open houses have been scheduled for late August or September at various sites. During these open houses and through other communication about the line, NPPD officials plan to discuss the R-Project timeline, the public involvement process, how the route will be selected, environmental considerations, right-of-way activities and easement compensation. They will also inform the public about engineering, the construction process and the expected timeline of the project.
"NPPD also visits with community leaders, county boards, special interest groups and other interested groups as they are identified about the project," says Craig Holthe, NPPD senior project manager. "The public is always encouraged to provide NPPD with information in other ways, if they cannot attend an open house."
The 345,000-volt line will be built somewhere within a current study area running from the Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland, north to Cherry County, then east to Holt and Antelope counties where it will tie into a 345,000-volt line owned by Western Area Power Administration. Siting of the project is still in the planning stages, but NPPD's goal is to have a specific route selected by the fall of 2014. "The route will be selected based on the review of aerial photography, field work on public property and comments received at the open houses," says Holthe. "Typically there is little, if any need to access private property. If access is needed, landowners will be contacted and permission requested to enter their property."
Construction is scheduled to begin on the line in the summer of 2016. "The main focus is on reliability and the ability to relieve bottlenecks on the electric grid," says Mark Becker, media specialist with NPPD. "It's sort of like a highway that becomes overcrowded and vehicle traffic is slowed down and in some cases stopped," Becker says.
"This will allow for better utilization of lowest cost generation resources, which is a positive economic benefit for all NPPD wholesale and retail customers," Holthe says. "The R-Project will help serve the future load levels in Nebraska," he says. "It will support more wind development in central Nebraska, either for use by NPPD, other Nebraska utilities or as wind for export."
The public can contact NPPD about the R-Project line through their website at www.nppd.com.