NPPD to begin public process for power line project

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) will begin the public involvement process in January 2014 for the planned Stegall to Scottsbluff 115-kV transmission project, a 23-mile stretch of new transmission line and associated substation additions and improvements in western Nebraska.

“The project was included in Southwest Power Pool’s [2013 integrated transmission] plan as necessary to ensure continued reliability,” an NPPD spokesperson told TransmissionHub Dec. 9. The new facilities, which will be constructed between a new substation near Stegall, Neb., and NPPD’s existing Scottsbluff substation, will help ensure electric reliability in the Nebraska Panhandle.

NPPD’s board of directors approved a resolution authorizing NPPD to begin public involvement at its Nov. 8 meeting. Public involvement marks the start of the process for the project, and will provide opportunities for landowners to learn more about the project. It will also provide NPPD opportunities to gather details about the properties that may be involved in the routing process.

“We will do several rounds of public involvement,” the spokesperson said. “That way we can get the public to come in and give us the input we need. We feel that the public involvement process becomes the backbone of this process.”

The process, which will consist of public meetings and other opportunities for stakeholders to comment, will provide NPPD with opportunities to highlight the importance of the project, and to identify factors that might affect the choice of the route for the project. Those factors include the paths of pivot irrigation systems as well as the plans farmers and ranchers in the largely agricultural area have for their property in the future.

Following the public comment process, the utility will consider the input received and develop a preferred route. After the route is developed, NPPD will seek the necessary regulatory approvals.

“At the point where we have a transmission route, then we take it to the [Nebraska] Power Review Board [which will] determine there is no duplication of services and that it is at the lowest cost possible.”

NPPD must also obtain approval from the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC), which will review the lines’ design and safety. Applications to those agencies are anticipated in early 2015.

After the necessary approvals are received, NPPD will begin obtaining easements on the land needed for the rights-of-way (ROW). 

The project is expected to cost $39m, which includes costs associated with the public involvement phase, obtaining of easements for the rights-of-way (ROW), substation and transmission work. The new line is scheduled to be placed into service in 2017.