Sixty days after the conclusion of a series of public hearings, Nebraska Public Power District today presented the final route for a proposed transmission line between Columbus and Lincoln. The final route tracks closely, with minor alterations, to the "proposed route" NPPD shared with the public in November. "We've used the past 60 days to analyze comments and respond to suggestions from property owners and public officials," said Ed Wagner, NPPD's Vice President of Customer Services and Delivery.
The more than year-long process used to identify the final route has been comprehensive, Wagner said. "Because of the process, I'm confident we've identified the most suitable route for the new line," he stated.
Public involvement was a high priority in the line-routing process. "We have sought public input every step of the way," Wagner said. For example, over a 10-month period, the project team held 33 public meetings and reviewed over a dozen alternative line routes submitted by the public.
"We've listened carefully to what the public has told us," Wagner said. Because of public comments, NPPD will utilize steel, single-pole structures almost exclusively (with an average 400 percent smaller footprint than lattice steel towers); stair-step the route past Bee, Seward and Garland (which minimizes impacts to residences and increases the line's distance from communities); and double-circuit the line where it is prudent to do so. (Double-circuit means to use an existing transmission line right-of-way, placing the existing 115-kV and the new 345-kV lines on the same structure.)
"These decisions may add slightly to the project's overall cost, but we feel it is a fair trade-off to lessen impacts," Wagner said. In the final analysis, more than 30 different criteria were used to identify the most suitable line route. "We took many factors into account when siting this transmission line. There were many competing interests, and we realize we cannot satisfy all of them. Our goal was to do the best job we could to minimize overall impacts, and that's what we've done," Wagner concluded.
Construction will begin in late summer 2008. Right-of-way agents will be talking to landowners along the route in the next couple of months to obtain right-of-entry agreements, with easement acquisition beginning in March 2008.