NPPD unveils preferred route for Hoskins to Neligh transmission project

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) on May 6 unveiled its preferred route for the proposed 345-kV Hoskins to Neligh transmission project, ahead of the third round of public hearings that will be held on the proposed project.

Two earlier rounds of public hearings about the proposed line provided the agency with information from landowners that assisted it in identifying preferred and alternate line routes and substation sites. The first hearing session was held May 14 in Neligh, Neb., and the second will be held May 15 in Norfolk, Neb.

The preferred line route follows an alignment near the southern boundaries of the South Branch, Cleveland, Blaine and Mills Townships west of Hoskins, Neb., then turns north to a point near the northern boundary of the Mills Township. From there, the route turns west and continues approximately halfway through Elm Township, turns north to cross the border into Willow Township, then turns west again before terminating at the agency’s preferred substation site near the Willow Township/Custer Township boundary.

Construction on the Hoskins to Neligh line is expected to begin in the summer of 2015. The project is scheduled to enter service in the of spring 2016, and has an estimated cost of $98.6m, according to the utility.

The agency also provided an alternative substation location in Neligh Township, a short distance west of its preferred location.

NPPD also identified alternative routings, which have the line extending west in an alignment at approximately the middle of South Branch and Cleveland Townships before diverging to several possible alignments through Blaine and Mills Townships. West of Mills Township, the alternatives follow the boundary between Mills Township on the south and Willow Creek Township on the north, then along the boundary of Elm Township on the south and Willow Township on the north.

In addition to the new 345-kV line, which will run from an existing substation near Hoskins to a new substation in the Neligh area, four additional 115-kV lines will be rerouted from existing transmission lines in the Neligh area to the new substation.

NPPD says the 345-kV line is needed to enhance transmission system reliability and provide opportunities for additional renewable energy generation.

“This line is one of several ways NPPD is addressing the energy demands in the area while maintaining the reliability of the system for all its customers,” an NPPD spokesperson told TransmissionHub May 14. NPPD and other utilities faced higher than expected electric loads in the area during the summer of 2012, and asked for customers to reduce their energy usage to avoid outages.

NPPD has not yet made a decision on a final line route or substation site. After the current round of public hearings is concluded, NPPD will use information gathered to inform its decision. It will then publish its final line route and substation site before hosting another public hearing as part of its public involvement process, the spokesperson said. 

“NPPD’s goal is to minimize the impact to landowners and find the most suitable line route and substation site in terms of considering items such as land use, environmental constraints, constructability, cost and electric system performance,” Tom Kent, NPPD vice president and COO said in a statement.

The Hoskins to Neligh transmission line was one of two lines the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) identified as needed pathways in the integrated transmission plan it issued in January 2012. That plan assessed the needs of the entire transmission network within the SPP region over the next 10 years.

The 222-mile Gentleman to Cherry to Holt 345-kV line was the other line identified. That $313.3m project is expected to be in service in 2018, according to TransmissionHub data.