Extensive damage is being reported by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) following a storm that pushed through central Nebraska Saturday evening July 17. NPPD is currently estimating that approximately 32 mi of high voltage transmission lines and 236 structures are on the ground. NPPD officials are currently assessing the extent of damage to the transmission system and the cost of damage.
Hardest hit were several sections of 230-kV transmission lines that runs through Buffalo County, north of Kearney. A section that runs from NPPD’s Crooked Creek substation in Dawson County to its Riverdale substation has 100 structures on the ground over a span of 14 mi. Another section that runs between NPPD’s Riverdale substation to its Grand Island substation has 128 structures down over 18 mi.
A third line, a 115-kV line from the Riverdale substation to the Tower substation in Kearney, has eight structures on the ground covering one mile. NPPD crews were still completing patrols to determine additional damage on all three lines.
NPPD crews are currently working on removing downed lines from highways and county roads, and any lines that are lying on lower voltage lines. Local law enforcement has blocked off many of these roadways.
Some Dawson Public Power District and Southern Power District retail customers were without electricity during the night until power could be re-routed. NPPD crews also removed a transmission line that fell on Highway 183 north of Elm Creek that had fallen on two vehicles. The occupants of the vehicles were safely removed from their vehicles.
A number of NPPD communities were without power Saturday evening and into Sunday morning. Outages were reported in Kearney, Ravenna, Gibbon, and Shelton. The largest was 774 customers without power in Ravenna for approximately 90 minutes. Another 559 lost power in Gibbon shortly after 10 p.m. Service was restored to all customers by 5 a.m. Sunday morning. NPPD also reported customer outages in O’Neill and Emmett in northeast Nebraska, caused by a different storm front.