NPPD to hold second series of open houses on 345-kV ‘R-Project’

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) will kick off the second series of six public open houses Sept. 9 to gather additional public input on corridors for its proposed 222-mile, 345-kV transmission project known as the R-Project.

“The upcoming open houses give landowners within the corridor another opportunity to provide NPPD information about their property,” Craig Holthe, NPPD senior project manager, said in an Aug. 29 statement announcing the open houses. “This process helps inform the public of why NPPD is doing this project and in turn allows us to collect needed information about property in the study corridor, whether it is identifying center pivots, tree lines that are on their property, or future plans under consideration by the landowner.”

Based on public and agency comments gathered during the first series of six open houses within the study area held in January, NPPD narrowed the study area into corridors, which will be among the facets of the project that will be discussed at the open houses.

Originally identified as the Gentleman to Cherry to Holt project by the Southwest Power Pool, the R-Project as currently envisioned will start at the Gerald Gentleman station near Sutherland, Neb., and will extend north to a new substation in or near the Cherry County area. From that point, it will continue east to a new substation in the Holt, Antelope, or Wheeler County area where it will tie into the existing 345-kV transmission line owned by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA).

Depending on the final identified routes, the project may ultimately not traverse Cherry or Holt counties, an NPPD spokesperson told TransmissionHub Sept. 5.

The open houses will each run six hours, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The first four meetings will be held Sept. 9-12 in Thedford, Sutherland, Dunning and Stapleton in Nebraska respectively. The final two meetings will be held Sept. 16 and 17 in Burwell and Bartlett in Nebraska respectively.

Information received during the first two rounds of open houses will be considered in the development of preferred and alternate routes, which will be shown to the public some time next spring. Construction is currently expected to begin by the summer of 2016.

When completed, the R-Project will help enhance operation of NPPD’s electric transmission system, relieve congestion from existing lines within the transmission system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable energy projects, NPPD said.

The R-Project is estimated to cost $313m and is expected to be in service by 2018, according to TransmissionHub data.

The R-Project is one of three major transmission projects being undertaken by NPPD. Another is the Hoskins to Neligh project, a 50-mile, 345-kV line needed to address the overload of the Battle Creek to County Line 115-kV line for the outage of Albion – Petersburg 115-kV line and to address the overload during contingencies in the Neligh area. Originating at Hoskins and terminating at Neligh, the project is estimated to cost $98.6m and to be in service by 2016.

NPPD has resumed transmission planning activities on the third project, the Keystone XL Pipeline transmission project. That project comprises three relatively short segments of 115-kV transmission that will provide power to the pumping stations for the planned Keystone XL Pipeline.

Two segments are less than four miles long, while a third segment is 13 miles long. NPPD plans to hold public open houses and meet with individual landowners in the near future to discuss the routes for the new lines, which are dependent on pipeline developers securing all necessary permits for the project by the end of the year.