Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is working through the permitting process with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding NPPD’s R-Project, NPPD COO Tom Kent told TransmissionHub on Feb. 20.
As noted on the project website, NPPD plans to build the 345-kV transmission line from its Gerald Gentleman station near Sutherland to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford; the new line would then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County.
The line would terminate at that new substation – the Holt County substation, located south of Clearwater, Neb. – and interconnect with the 345-kV line that is owned by the Western Area Power Administration, Kent said.
“We’re going through a full environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act because we’re asking for an incidental take permit for the American Burying Beetle, which is a federally listed endangered species [whose] home range is in the Sandhills of Nebraska where this line will be built,” Kent said. “The draft environmental impact statement was published in May of last year. We’ve gone through two public comment periods – the Fish and Wildlife Service held these public comment periods.”
He noted that the Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating those comments, plans “on publishing the final environmental impact statement later this year, and issuing the record of decision on the project by the end of this year – [that is] my understanding of their schedule.”
Kent said that NPPD would begin construction of the project as soon as it receives the necessary approval from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Noting that NPPD anticipates about two years for project construction, he said that the project would be operational in “the last quarter of 2020.”
The budgetary estimate for the entire project, including substations, transformers and line construction – is about $365m, he said.
Kent noted that the project is primarily needed “to improve reliability of the transmission system. We are [building] this project to create a new strong source on the west side of our 115-kV system – that’s the Thedford substation where we’ll put a new transformer in that will interconnect the [345-kV] R-Project with the underlying 115-kV transmission system.”
He said that the project is also needed to “reduce congestion on the transmission system and it will be another major transmission path from the western part of the state to the eastern part of the state, which will help reduce congestion within the transmission network from the Southwest Power Pool and Nebraska.”
In addition, the line is needed as it “will enable development of renewable resources,” Kent said.