Library filed under Transmission from Nebraska
Legislative Bill 409, which also would set up a special Unicameral committee to study transmission-line issues, reflects a years-long Sandhills dispute over Nebraska Public Power District’s currently mothballed R-Project. If passed, the bill would forbid “a public power district, public irrigation district or public power and irrigation district” from starting or continuing construction on transmission lines at least 200 miles long through Jan. 1, 2023.
The Denver judge said Fish and Wildlife’s order granting the permit didn’t review possible routes to avoid O’Fallon’s Bluff, despite saying in its final environmental impact statement that running electrical lines over it would have “a long-term, high-intensity indirect (visual, auditory and atmospheric) effect.” Thousands of wagons on the Oregon-California Trail crossed the bluff from 1843 to 1866, cutting deep dips that remain today. It parallels Interstate 80 to the south between Sutherland and Hershey.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez revoked a federal permit that would have allowed the Nebraska Public Power District to kill or severely disturb the endangered American burying beetle as a consequence of building its R-Line project.
"This route was picked as the cheapest for NPPD. But it is the most expensive for the health of humans and destructive to our natural habitat," the group said in a news release. The 225-mile high-voltage line will cut through the heart of the Sandhills, from Stapleton north to Thedford and east to near Clearwater.
In the civil suit, the petitioners say officials violated policy and law. They want the U-S District Court to order a review of the permits and take a harder look at the environmental impact, and what would happen to species like the Whooping Crane and the American Burying Beetle.
This civil suit filed in US District Court against the United State Fish and Wildlife Service challenges the permit granted Nebraska Public Power District to construct the R-Project Transmission Line slated to go through the Sandhills. The petition, which can be downloaded from this page, asserts that the government agency failed to properly assess the environmental impacts of the transmission line, particularly with regard to the Whooping Crane and the American Burying Beetle. The R-Project is a 225-mile transmission line.
Nebraska State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, Neb., has worked with his constituents to address those concerns and have even attempted to stop construction of the project in the fragile Sandhills. Brewer said he is “very disappointed in NPPD and the federal agencies making these terribly flawed decisions. They have steadfastly ignored the many concerns from hundreds of citizens, and the mountains of hard evidence and research presented to them.”
That compromise says such projects are presumed to be for a public use, and can use eminent domain. But it still gives the landowner the right to go to court to argue against that. Sen. Wendy DeBoer, who worked on the compromise with Brewer, said that was better than a blanket prohibition by the Legislature.
Beyond concern for historic sites, Harms cited new information about the number of whooping cranes – also an endangered species – which use the area. And he mentioned landowners’ concerns that the line could encourage building wind turbines in the Sandhills, which many residents say would scar the land and spoil the view. So far, wind energy projects generating more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity, and requiring hundreds of turbines, are on a list of potential tie-ins to the R-Project.
Sen. Tom Brewer plans to introduce a bill next legislative session to place a two-year moratorium to block wind development in the Sandhills. “There's a mad rush right now to build wind turbines in the Sandhills and common sense cannot put a corner-post line and not have put in a dead man to anchor it," Brewer said. "So why would you build a 5,60-foot tower in sand and not question the wisdom behind that?"
"It's going through the Sandhills and crossing several rivers that have a tremendous amount of fish and wildlife resources," said Bob Harms, a Wildlife Service biologist based in Grand Island. "It's unfragmented grasslands. It's a huge resource for migratory birds and threatened and endangered species." Some of the highest populations of the endangered American burying beetle in the U.S. are found along the route as well, he said.
A new wind power analysis has found it would cost Nebraska utilities as much as $4 billion to upgrade the state’s electricity transmission system to support the export of wind-generated power to other states.
Twice previously, the current chairman of the Nebraska Power Review Board recused himself from voting because of a potential conflict of interest: His employer was working for a utility seeking board approval of a project. But this month, Chairman Michael Siedschlag, a vice president with HDR Engineering, voted in favor of a controversial high-voltage transmission line proposed by the Nebraska Public Power District. The project was approved on a 3-2 vote.
Today's Nebraska Power Review Board hearing in Lincoln on a proposed Axtell-Kansas transmission line may signal tough sledding ahead for wind-power development in Nebraska and improvements to the grid. Opponents of the Nebraska Public Power District-proposed project don't want 125- to 150-foot-tall power poles cutting through their farmland and pastures.
On a 3-2 vote, the Nebraska Power Review Board late Friday approved construction of a controversial, high-voltage transmission line from Axtell, Neb., southward to the Kansas state line. Local residents had complained that the $83 million project would benefit Kansas mostly, and wasn't needed by the State of Nebraska.
In what might signal some tough sledding ahead for wind-power development in Nebraska, grievances will be presented Friday related to construction of a high-voltage power-transmission line planned in south-central Nebraska. Opponents to the project from Axtell, Neb., to the Kansas border don't want 125- to 150-foot-tall power poles cutting through their farmland, particularly since they believe that the main beneficiary of the $87 million project is a giant wind farm in Kansas.
Broken Bow and Custer County residents can learn about route options for a Nebraska Public Power District transmission line to link a current substation to a wind farm expected to go into operation in 2012.