R-Project requested by Southwest Power Pool

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I have heard from several people in the sandhills region who are concerned about the R-Project. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) needs to construct a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland to a new substation to be sited adjacent to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford.

The new line will then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County. This project is referred to as the R-Project, it is a line that is approximately 225-miles long and will help enhance operation of the power grid and relieve congestion from existing lines within the transmission system.

In the planning process, NPPD used a comprehensive public involvement process during the siting of this transmission line. Since November 2014, there have been three rounds of public open house meetings, eight public hearings, as well as additional meetings for interested parties. NPPD also met with area landowners; local, county, and state government officials; representatives of the appropriate regulatory agencies within the respective project area and communities.

This project was requested by the Southwest Power Pool or SPP is being funded by all members of the SPP, of which NPPD is a member. The SPP was created in 1941 when 11 regional power companies pooled their resources.

Today, the SPP oversees the bulk electric grid and wholesale power market in 14 states, located in the central part of the United States, from Texas to North Dakota. The SPP covers 546,000 square miles, including more than 60,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, providing electricity to over 18 million people. As a member of the SPP, we are required to have a certain amount of transmission.

The SPP conducted a study, also known as the Integrated Transmission Plan, to assess the needs of the entire transmission network within the SPP region over the next 10 years. SPP has requested this new line to ensure reliability and dependability of the power grid to make sure there is interconnectivity to keep everyone’s power on in case of regional disaster such as a blizzard or ice storm.

This project is to get power from Gerald Gentleman in Sutherland, one of the most efficient and cleanest burning coal-fired generation plants in the country, to a new market, thus ensuring the continued viability of that facility and also providing lowest cost power to millions of people. Many in the sandhills are afraid that this R-Project is to promote wind generation but that is certainly not the intent.

I am aware of a situation between NPPD contractors and a small citizens group in the sandhills.

As Chairman of Natural Resources Committee, I am staying updated on the public debate and all information relating to the R-Project and its progress. Although this may not be a subject that directly affects the 44th district, reliable and affordable electricity are my priorities for everyone across Nebraska.

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.

You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: