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NPPD finalizes trans line route
January 29, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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After a year and four public hearings, Nebraska Public Power District has come up with a final route for its Scottsbluff to Stegall transmission line.

“In the past year over several phases, we’ve been working with the landowners,” said Tom Kent, NPPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We learned everything we could about their property and the area to ultimately find a route that minimizes impact on ag land as much as possible.”

Kent said that by state statute, they must follow section and half section lines along ag land, so the transmission line will be along fence lines or along the edge of a road right-of-way.

The proposed 115,000 volt transmission line runs approximately 23 miles from the existing Scottsbluff substation on the Beltline Highway to a new substation, to be built approximately five miles south of Stegall. The line travels straight east, running south of Signal Butte, Robidoux Pass and Scotts Bluff National Monument. At the Lockwood Road area east of Gering, the line then travels north to the Scottsbluff substation.

The newly built Stegall substation will also be connected to an existing substation in the same area owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

“The load on existing transmission system in the western Panhandle is at its limit,” Kent said. “This new line will provide a lot of reliability improvements. It gives us another good feed into the Scottsbluff-Gering area and a better voltage source.”

Ken Mabery, Superintendent at Scotts Bluff National Monument, said NPPD had a tough choice in coming up with a final route. “As far as it goes for preserving and protecting the cultural heritage in our county, I think they did a really good job.”

NPPD hosted its final public hearing on Jan. 21 at the Gering Civic Center. Project engineers explained the entire process to approximately 77 people who attended. They covered the use of both H-frame and monopole transmission poles, right-of-way negotiations with landowners and how the owners would be compensated for allowing access to NPPD.

A portion of the hearing was also devoted to public input. While comment was light, one topic covered was how the project would work around the high water table in Gering Valley. Another question was whether the right-of-way would be shared with other agencies, such as irrigation districts.

While the proposed route line has been mapped, it won’t be finalized for another 30 to 45 days.

In that time, NPPD will still receive comments and concerns from affected landowners. Persons can leave comments on the project website, www.nppd.com/stegall-scottsbluff. They can also email powerline@nppd.com or call 1-888-677-3412.

After 30 days, NPPD agents will begin negotiating with landowners for right-of-way access and determining compensation.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2017.
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