Op-Ed: Transmission project supported

Recently the Nebraska Public Power District held a series of hearings to discuss a new transmission project planned for northeast Nebraska. The 40 mile line, stretching from the Hoskins area to a new substation near Neligh, is designed to improve reliability in a part of the state hit hard by the drought.

Increasing the reliability of our transmission grid is important. But expanding our electric grid also serves a role that many of us don’t consider. Today, a lack of wires is the single biggest limiting factor as we work to build wind farms in our rural counties. 

More transmission leads to more wind power. It also ensures that our rural communities can begin to benefit from the economic advantages wind energy can create.

NPPD understands this. Though what I believe to be its failure to capitalize on the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy routinely disappoints many Nebraskans, they recognize that this technology will play a role in Nebraska’s future. They know that any significant transmission expansion must enable the operation of a new generation of wind projects.  

Some are concerned that this project might also provide electricity needed to power pumping stations along the Keystone XL pipeline. We know that the Hoskins to Neligh line isn’t being built expressly for that purpose. Might some of the electricity delivered on this line be used for that purpose? It’s hard to tell. Once electricity makes its way to the grid, it’s close to impossible to pinpoint where it’s going and how it might be used

The Center for Rural Affairs uses a core set of principles when evaluating whether a transmission project deserves our support. Will the project enable wind generation? Has the developer sought out the input of each local community? Will affected landowners be compensated fairly?  In this case, the answer is yes. We support the Hoskins-Neligh transmission project.