NPPD to resume transmission planning for Keystone pipeline

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is planning to hold public open houses and meet with individual landowners in the weeks ahead to discuss the routes for three new segments of transmission needed to accommodate the proposed new route for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline through central Nebraska after NPPD’s board of directors recently approved two resolutions authorizing the District to resume its involvement in building transmission needed for the pipeline project.

One resolution directed NPPD management to restart NPPD’s planning work on the transmission lines that will be needed to power the pumping stations along the pipeline.

NPPD completed its original planning study in March 2009 and, in June 2009, its board of directors authorized management to begin modifications to the system that would be needed to provide electric power “to reliably serve new and expanding electrical loads in areas served directly by the District and its wholesale customers.”

However, TransCanada directed NPPD to halt all work in November 2011 until an alternate route for the pipeline could be developed.

Now that the District has been authorized to resume planning, the District could hold public open houses and meet with affected landowners in late September or early October, an NPPD spokesperson told TransmissionHub Aug. 19. 

The project will require three new 115-kV transmission lines representing significantly fewer miles of power lines to meet the service request than originally planned.

“Those routes are very short,” the spokesperson said. “Two of them are less than four miles, and one is 13 miles. The one that is 13 miles will go through the regular public open house process, which will include a study area, corridors, and then a preferred and alternative routes before we get to a public hearing.”

NPPD will likely meet with the landowners affected by the shorter routes either individually or in small groups, the spokesperson said.

The two shorter lines will run from a new substation to be built near Emmet, Neb., to the pipeline pumping station near Emmet, and from the expanded Neligh-Antelope substation near Neligh to a pumping station near Neligh. The longer transmission segment will run from Clarks, Neb., to a pumping station east of Fullerton.

A second resolution approved Aug. 9 protects NPPD ratepayers.

“It gave us a mechanism to get refunded the money that we put out for [the project],” the spokesperson said.

That resolution adopted new agreements that ensure TransCanada will reimburse NPPD for all expenses incurred to build electric infrastructure to serve the pipeline, and gives NPPD an escape clause should the company fail to obtain permits in a timely manner.

The resolution said the July 31 agreements “are the same in substance of the original Keystone agreements,” except that the new agreements give NPPD the right to terminate the agreements and provide that NPPD’s costs will be reimbursed if Keystone does not receive all permits for the new route by Dec. 31.

Five area electric utilities will provide electric service at retail to TransCanada to power its pumping stations along the pipeline. They are Cornhusker Power District, Niobrara Valley EMC, Elkhorn Rural Public Power District, Perennial Public Power District and Norris Public Power District.