Columbus – Based on TransCanada’s recent decision to voluntarily re-route its proposed Keystone XL pipeline out of the Sand Hills, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is delaying activities on associated transmission infrastructure planned to serve the pipeline until further notice.
This includes putting on hold activities such as procuring materials and supplies, acquiring easements from landowners and clearing right-of-way. The exception is for work already begun to grade land for development of future substation sites. In these substation locations, NPPD is completing restoration work that will place the properties in acceptable conditions for the long-term, or until new planning and engineering studies are completed.
When a new pipeline route is determined, NPPD will need to conduct its own planning and engineering assessments to determine any new electrical service obligations that may be required to support the Keystone XL pipeline in a new location.
“Completing a transmission line project from start to finish takes several years,” said Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent. “We started working on this project about 30 months ago and have held multiple public meetings, along with performing surveying activities and engineering for the three transmission line segments that were identified to serve the original pipeline route.”
Routes for these proposed three lines have been approved by the Nebraska Power Review Board and include a new, nine-mile transmission line segment near the Clarks/Central City area, a 37-mile line segment near the Ericson/Petersburg area and a 28-mile line segment in the O’Neill/Stuart area. These lines and the associated substation facilities are intended to provide electrical energy to local utilities that would serve the pipeline directly.
The local utilities in the respective areas for the three line projects include: Southern Power District in the Clarks/Central City area; Loup Valleys Rural Public Power District in the Ericson/Petersburg area; and Niobrara Valley EMC in the O’Neill area. NPPD had also been working with these utilities to relocate some of their existing retail distribution lines to prepare for construction of NPPD’s transmission lines, and this work has also been stopped.
In addition, right-of-way agents began requesting easements from landowners along the final transmission line routes for this project beginning in June 2011. As stated, work to acquire any more easements has stopped, and NPPD will refrain from recording any signed easements at the Register of Deeds offices until further notice.
“Landowners who have already signed an easement for the transmission line, are entitled to retain the money paid for the easement whether the line is built or not,” explained Kent. “NPPD will contact those with an easement after a final pipeline route has been established and will inform them whether or not the easement will remain and be recorded, or if the easement document will be nullified.”
Until that time, easements and all terms and conditions are valid and enforceable. Landowners who have signed a transmission line easement should contact NPPD if they desire to do any work or construction that may be in conflict with the easement area, and NPPD will work with them to resolve any issues.
TransCanada is responsible for the cost of all electric facilities required to serve its pipeline and is reimbursing NPPD for all project expenses incurred. NPPD will stay in contact with TransCanada as the new pipeline routing process develops.
“NPPD sincerely appreciates the patience and understanding of those impacted by this change in process,” said Kent.
Questions or concerns can be directed to the NPPD project team at 1-888-677-3412. More information is also available on www.nppd.com.