A map of the preferred and alternate routes for the project. For a more detailed map can be found here.
The $380 million transmission line project will improve system reliability and limit congestion in the SPP’s nine-state region. The new line will create opportunities for economic development in rural areas, and the developer’s stated purpose is to “maintain reliable supplies of electricity across its nine-state region.”
345 KV, 230 KV
Two sections of the route will be updated. The first segment, from Gerald Gentleman Station to Cherry County and east to Holt County, covers approximately 222 miles. This portion will connect with a power line owned by the Western Area Power Administration. The second section will stretch from NPPD’s Hoskins substation near Norfolk to a new substation at Neligh, originally planned to take up 50 miles, but has now been shortened to only 40 miles. A local contractor, HDR, has been tapped to design the second segment. They are also in charge of the routing, public involvement, and environmental aspects of the line.
NPPD estimates the distance between structures on the line will run in nearly quarter mile spans across property. Although concrete is traditionally used to anchor structures, the sandhills of Nebraska present a unique challenge to the developer. Currently, NPPD is reviewing different methods that can be used to reliably anchor poles and towers along the line. Also because of the challenge of placing structures in this area, NPPD noted that lattice towers would give a wider base to allow for easier construction, but has made no decision yet as to which type of structure will be primarily used for the line.
The project is expected to be complete within five years. During the current planning phase, developers are interacting with stakeholders to produce the most effective line with minimal impact to landowners. The first open house sessions covering the study area took place in October of 2012.
This line will be broken up into three separate segments. The first, Neligh-Hoskins, will require a new substation near Neligh. In October of 2012 NPPD began holding meetings with landowners and affected communities along this proposed segment. The meetings followed an open house format, featuring up to 20 NPPD employees available to answer questions and provide insight.
NPPD held meetings with landowners in the fall of 2013 to discuss different concerns about potential routes. They expect to present between three and seven distinct possibilities for the route, and will receive feedback from landowners on those routes at meetings that will run into 2014. NPPD will hold a public hearing in the winter of 2014 to further discuss the line, and the developer can proceed with negotiating right-of-way with landowners after 30 days.
The ITP 10 plan calls for in-service dates of 2018 for the first phase and 2019 for the second phase.
NPPD notes there are about 40 separate criteria they must meet for proposed routes, but that siting is primarily about minimizing impact and not about finding a route that will fit all of the listed criteria. The developer noted that there are nearly 15 endangered or protected species along the study corridor that must be considered in the routing process.
Nebraska state law requires that transmission lines be placed on half-section lines, but NPPD is able to negotiate if landowners do not wish to have the lines running along half-sections on their property. Because of the half-section requirement, the line will mostly make 90 degree turns as it crosses from property to property.
Structures require a 200 foot ease, with about 100 feet on either side unless circumstances require a different configuration. Nebraska state law does not require structures to be fenced off from livestock, but NPPD has mentioned it as a possible solution if landowners are concerned about livestock getting to close or if livestock proximity is causing maintenance issues--i.e. increasing erosion. The developer noted that they would prefer not to fence off the structures, however, unless necessary.
If the developer cannot negotiate right-of-way and chooses to use the state power of eminent domain to acquire the use of property, NPPD must demonstrate the necessity of the line and that will be in the public interest to construct it.
Currently, NPPD must still receive approval for the line from its board of directors, as well as the Nebraska Power Review Board and the Nebraska Public Service Commission--where they must show the need for the line--to ensure that safety and quality guidelines are met.
Some communities--like Cherry County, NE--are excited about the possibilities new transmission capacity brings. According to Cherry County Wind Association president, George Johnson: “We all know the wind blows here and that we can harness the energy. The challenge has been finding a way to ship the energy out.” But other landowners in the area are concerned about the impact that the line would have on soil and native wildlife. Two groups--called Stop the Towers and Save the Sandhills--have formed in opposition to the line. They note that they are concerned about the impact that the line could have on the unique landscape of the sandhills, and the effect that the line would have on the property and agricultural operations of area landowners.
An aerial spraying business may be affected by the line's placement near Highway 83. The owner is concerned that the line could potentially shut down one of his two airstrips, and that the presence of towers could be dangerous to aircrafts.
The Nebraska Public Power District typically utilizes a public involvement process which provides opportunity for input at four distinct stages: the formulation of the study area, the formulation of study corridors, the development of alternate and preferred routes, and the final public hearing. These opportunities will allow local citizens to weigh in on the construction process and learn more about the project as it develops.
NPPD will hold another round of public open house meetings in late April and early May of 2014.
Easement contracts with NPPD require that landowners review the property used for the project, and sign off that the property was restored or was not damaged to their satisfaction.
After concluding a third round of open houses for the Hoskins-Neligh transmission line, public hearings were held in early August in northeast Nebraska. The hearings were preceded by an open house to inform any attendees who had not been able to attend one of the earlier rounds of open houses.
Clean Energy Potential:
While clean energy is not the guiding focus of the R-Line upgrades, new infrastructure built near windy areas will help some rural communities connect their wind turbines to the grid.
Controversial R-Line project being considered for Nebraska Sandhills October 27, 2017
Property owners raise concerns after meeting on R-Project October 26, 2017
Landowners meet with US Fish and Wildlife Service October 25, 2017
Landowners fear transmission line could pose threat to historic trails September 20, 2016
UPDATE: NPPD surveys ranch for transmission line project September 8, 2016
Landowners, NPPD make case in court on transmission line August 11, 2016
Electrical Proposals Create Sandhills Power Struggle July 27, 2016
NPPD Works On Hoskins to Neligh Transmission Line in Norfolk February 24, 2016
Planned transmission line still generating controversy November 4, 2015
NPPD presents R-project updates October 20, 2015
Battle over grassland electrical lines looms in Nebraska June 27, 2015
NPPD, Landowners Differ on Transmission Line Route May 14, 2015
NPPD to conduct public hearings November 8, 2014
NPPD R-Project Public Hearings Begin November 4, 2014
Public hearing today for new electric line November 4, 2014
NPPD Gets Ready For Public Hearing on New Power Line Project November 4, 2014
Public hearings set for proposed transmission line October 24, 2014
Sandhills ranchers who oppose power line can speak against project September 12, 2014
NPPD to build transmission line in NE Nebraska September 7, 2014
Preparations to begin for new NPPD transmission line September 6, 2014
NPPD to install 42-mile transmission line to avert overloading August 23, 2014
Power line plans could paralyze aerial business July 3, 2014
Balance of Power and Environment in the Sandhills May 23, 2014
NPPD power line plans divide Sand Hills May 3, 2014
Which Route Is Best? April 29, 2014
NPPD at third step in project April 22, 2014
NPPD Gives R-Project Update April 21, 2014
New Transmission May Help Nebraska Export Wind Power in Future November 27, 2013
HDR selected for NPPD transmission line December 11, 2012
NPPD open house for Hoskins-Neligh project October 26, 2012
Transmission Boosts Nebraskan Wind April 10, 2012