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Robots battle Saturday at Kearney VEX tournament

January 28, 2015

Kearney, Neb. – With team names like “Nuts and Bolts”, “Gonna Need a Bigger Bot”, and “Roboom”, a unique competition will be staged this Saturday in Kearney.

The Kearney High School VEX tournament will be conducted Saturday at Sunrise Middle School, 4611 Avenue N in Kearney, beginning at 11 a.m. The tournament involves the use of student-created robots in a competition setting. The event is being hosted by the Nebraska Public Power District and is free and open to the public. Awards will be given to teams in various categories that include tournament champion, tournament finalist, and special awards for excellence, programming skills, robot skills, design, and sportsmanship.

The VEX Robotics Program is a competitive academic activity designed to inspire students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Teams are tasked with a new challenge each year and must analyze, design, build, program and test their robots in relation to a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test on the playing field as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communication, problem solving, and more. From November through February, teams compete in tournaments to hopefully qualify for a spot at state, nationals and world competitions.

A total of 30 teams, representing Ravenna Public Schools, Crete High School, Omaha North Magnet School, Chase County Schools, Cross County Schools, Millard North, Norfolk, Lakeview, Grand Island, and Kearney high schools are scheduled to compete Saturday.

This year’s challenge, VEX Skyrise, is played on a 12-foot by 12-foot square field. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period, followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring with colored cubes in floor goals, on posts or on Skyrise, by owning posts, and by building Skyrise sections.

“In addition to just having a great time and building amazing robots, this program helps students learn and understand the engineering, technical and programming skills needed in building a robot, plus develop teamwork skills, leadership and sportsmanship,” explained NPPD Outreach Programs Specialist Kim Liebig. “NPPD’s interest in sponsoring an event such as VEX Robotics is that we support the program’s education of engineering principles, since we employ engineers of various disciplines – from mechanical to nuclear engineering.”

While participating in the VEX Skyrise season, teams develop new skills in response to the challenges and obstacles that stand before them. Some problems will be solved by individuals, while others will be handled through interaction with their student teammates and adult mentors.

Earlier in the school year, teams first worked together to build a VEX robot to compete in one of many tournaments like the one being staged in Kearney. After the season is completed later this spring, students come away not only with the accomplishment of building their own competition robot, but also with an appreciation of science and technology and how they positively impact the world around them.

Competing teams Saturday will be attempting to qualify for the Nebraska State Championship to be staged in Stromsburg in February and for the U.S. Open Championship to be held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, April 7-9. Winning qualifiers from the U.S. Open Championship will go on to the VEX Robotics World Competition to be held in Louisville, Ky. April 15-18 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

NPPD announces final R-Project transmission line route

January 26, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District announced today the final line route for its R-Project 345,000-volt transmission line that will meet reliability needs of the Nebraska transmission system and reduce congestion on the existing system. The line will also provide new transmission capacity to address future renewable generation.

Landowners along the route were notified of the final line route this week, completing a nearly two-year long process. NPPD conducted 26 open houses and meetings with the public, held eight public hearings, and accepted more than 2,500 comments during the routing process. In total, nearly 1,800 individuals attended the various open houses and hearings. The District completed state required public hearings in November and has reviewed input from those meetings in determining the final route. The final route was chosen after considering all comments received throughout the entire public process.

The line will run north from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland, to the existing Thedford substation that will be expanded to support the new transmission line and transformer that will interconnect with the underlying 115,000 volt system at Thedford. The line will then run east towards Holt County to a new substation that will be constructed connecting into an existing Western Area Power Administration 345,000 volt transmission line.

The District will begin to contact landowners to gain right-of-entry into private property during the next step of the process.

“The right-of-entry is very important for the project and the landowners,” explained NPPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent. “This gives NPPD an opportunity to gain access to property and work closely with landowners in determining very specific issues regarding siting of structures. Without that access, we will have to determine locations for structures based on aerial photography, and once we have the structures engineered, there may be lost opportunity to make changes to further improve structure locations to address a landowner’s specific issues.

“The earlier we can obtain a right-of-entry, the better for landowners in identifying specific issues and determining locations of the structures with their assistance. In using aerial photography, we can be extremely accurate in siting structures, but getting a better understanding of potential land use in the future from landowners helps the process.”

Kent explained that NPPD’s public involvement process was intended to determine the most suitable route while minimizing impacts to landowners. In developing the final route, the District has reviewed more than 2,500 comments from landowners and various agencies. Determination of the line route was based on established line routing criteria that included proximity to occupied residences, towns and villages and other amenities, the impact to farming and ranching operations, plus land use, environmental, engineering and construction criteria.

“Gathering information from landowners has been extremely helpful because some specific issues were identified that have led to changes in the route as we have gone through the process of moving from a study area to the final line route,” Kent pointed out.

Kent explained that the proposed route initially had some changes from what was announced in April and May of 2014, resulting in avoiding a private airstrip, reducing the number of homes in proximity to the line, gaining improved access for construction, having fewer shelterbelts in the right of way, and avoiding new Wetland Reserve Program properties, while adding length and angles to the 220-plus mile project estimated to cost $361 million.

The District plans to use a combination of steel poles and lattice-towers. The steel poles will typically be used on sections of the project that have relatively good access, or are near established roads and in cultivated fields. The lattice towers will be installed on the sections of the project that have limited access. The lattice towers were selected because they minimize impacts to the fragile soils due to the options they provide for construction. For example, the lattice towers can be erected with helicopters which negate the need to have a large crane at each site and helical pier foundations rather than concrete foundations.

“There have been concerns about restoring the Sandhills after construction,” said Kent, who noted that NPPD has hired a grasslands expert to consult on the restoration work. “NPPD has built transmission lines through the Sandhills over the years and has successfully constructed and conducted maintenance on these lines many times. Our approach to restoration is first to avoid and minimize damage during construction, perform the necessary mitigation, and gather input from stakeholders on the restoration work.

“Besides subject matter experts who will advise us on restoration, we are counting on landowners to tell us what they have faced and done in the past in restoring blowouts in this area. We do understand that it will take some time to restore damages resulting from construction of the line, but we intend to continue working with the landowners to restore the land as best as we can.”

An easement compensation plan with landowners has been established utilizing payments based on 80 percent of the appraised land value plus structure payments. “We intend to conduct good faith negotiations on compensation with landowners,” he added.

Right of entry is expected to begin in February and continue through July 2015, while engineering design for the project is expected to last into 2016. Easement acquisition is expected to run from September 2015 through February 2017. Line construction will follow starting in February 2017 with initial restoration activities running through November 2018. The line is planned to be in-service by September 2018.

The need for the line was identified by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) in its Integrated Transmission Plan. SPP, which NPPD is a member of, is a regional transmission organization that is governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure adequate transmission capacity is planned, and reliable operation of the transmission system is provided in the SPP region.

NPPD rate payers will pay seven percent of the costs of the project as part of its SPP membership, but will also pay a similar cost for projects in other locations in the SPP footprint for new transmission lines 345,000-volts and higher.

(Editor’s Note: A map of the final line route is available at http://www.nppd.com/assets/rproject/finalroutemap.pdf.)

Public hearing set for January 21 in Gering on NPPD’s Stegall to Scottsbluff transmission line route

January 9, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – A public hearing on Nebraska Public Power District’s Stegall to Scottsbluff 115,000-volt transmission line is scheduled to be held Wednesday, January 21, at the Gering Civic Center’s Oregon Trail Room, 1050 M Street, Gering. The formal hearing will begin at 7 p.m. with an open house running from 6 to 7 p.m. prior to the hearing.

NPPD plans to construct a 115,000-volt electric transmission line from the existing Scottsbluff substation to a new NPPD substation to be built approximately five miles south of Stegall near the existing Stegall substation owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. There will be a short 345,000 volt transmission line built between NPPD’s new substation and Basin’s existing Stegall substation. A final line route has not been determined.

The approximately 23-mile transmission line will enhance transmission system reliability in the western Nebraska Panhandle region. The new line will also meet the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Reliability Standards for the western Nebraska area. The line is expected to be in service by mid-2017.

The public hearing, required under Nebraska statutes, is conducted to present the proposed transmission project. A hearing officer will facilitate the hearing and a court reporter will be used to document all presentations by Nebraska Public Power District and landowner comments and questions.

The first part of the public hearing consists of presentations on the project by Nebraska Public Power District and its engineering consulting firm, POWER Engineers. The topics will include the need for the project, engineering aspects, line route selection, and the easement acquisition process. Once that portion of the hearing is completed, the public will have an opportunity to speak.

Any individual can supply testimony or ask questions about the project in two ways. One way is for the individual to speak from the podium, state their name and county where the property is located, and either present information that they feel is needed about the project, or ask questions about the project. Comment cards will also be available for landowners who prefer not to speak at the podium, but desire to make a statement or ask a question. The comment or question will be read aloud during the hearing.

Prior to each formal public hearing, NPPD will host a one hour open house similar to the previous three rounds that have been held since January of 2014. Again, this will be an opportunity for the public to provide additional information regarding their property or ask specific questions about the project. NPPD representatives will also be available following the public hearing to meet with landowners.

Approximately 30-45 days following the public hearing, NPPD will announce the final line route. Shortly thereafter, NPPD will begin meeting with landowners for right-of-entry to conduct activities along the line route. The initial activities include conducting surveys of proposed easement areas and proceeding with appraisal work. After engineering is completed, right-of-way agents will meet with landowners to fully explain the project as it relates to their specific property and explain terms and conditions of the easement needed for the line. NPPD strives for fair and respectful treatment of affected landowners during the entire process.

(Editor’s Note: Additional information and maps can be found at http://www.nppd.com/stegall-scottsbluff/.)

Ed Schrock re-elected NPPD Board chairman

January 8, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – The Nebraska Public Power District Board of Directors Thursday re-elected Ed Schrock of rural Holdrege as its chairman for 2015. Also re-elected were Ken Kunze of York as first vice chairman, Larry Linstrom of North Platte as second vice chairman, and Jerry Chlopek of Columbus as secretary.

Schrock began his first term of office on the NPPD Board of Directors in 2007 and was re-elected to a second term that began in 2013. Previously, Schrock served as second vice chairman in 2012 and first vice chairman in 2013.

Prior to his election to the NPPD Board, Schrock served as a Nebraska state senator for 14 years. A graduate of Holdrege High School and Nebraska Wesleyan University, Schrock farms with his sons on the family farm in Phelps County. He is a past president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and a past member of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. Schrock is a member of the Holdrege Chamber of Commerce and participates in numerous farm organizations.

Schrock represents Subdivision 6, which consists of Dawson, Gosper, Phelps, Furnas, Harlan, Kearney, Franklin, and Webster counties.

The NPPD Board of Directors also elected Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Traci Bender as treasurer, re-appointed Donna Starzec as assistant treasurer and Christine Pillen as deputy assistant treasurer. Jan Modelski was re-appointed as assistant secretary and Sandra Keefover as deputy assistant secretary. All are from Columbus.

Editor’s Note: Photos of the Board members are downloadable for the media on NPPD’s website at http://www.nppd.com/about-us/board-of-directors/.

Muddy Creek – Ord transmission line corridor open houses scheduled for December 16, 17

December 5, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – The second round of open houses for Nebraska Public Power District’s Muddy Creek to Ord transmission line project is set for December 16-17, with a focus on a proposed corridor for the project.

The Tuesday, December 16 open house will be held at the Broken Bow City Auditorium, 314 S. 10th Avenue, in Broken Bow, and the Wednesday, December 17 session will be held in the Exhibit Hall at the Valley County Fairgrounds, 801 S Street in Ord. Hours for both open houses will be from 2 to 8 p.m., and attendees should allow 45 minutes to walk through the displays and interact with NPPD representatives.

Since the initial open house sessions held in September, the project team has been reviewing public comments and meeting with various agencies while working to narrow the initial study area to corridors.

NPPD plans to construct a 115,000-volt electric transmission line from a new substation, to be called Muddy Creek and located near an existing transmission line east of Broken Bow, to an existing substation near Ord. The location of the new Muddy Creek substation is yet to be determined and the route of the line is estimated to be 42 miles in length, but no route has been determined at this time. This transmission line project will address voltage and loading issues in the immediate area and meet the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Reliability Standards for the central Nebraska area.

“We had a very good turnout at our first round of open houses,” said NPPD Senior Project Manager Mike Hasenkamp. “Any landowners who were unable to attend the first round and want to make comment related to their specific property are encouraged to come to this open house.”

The new line will play a vital role in enhancing the reliability of the transmission system in central Nebraska where electric load continually grows. In July 2012, a prolonged period of high temperatures combined with drought-like conditions, resulted in NPPD setting a record for peak electrical load needed by customers of 3,030 megawatts. The result was that NPPD’s transmission system in the central part of the state was stretched to the limit during the record load period.

Over the past two years, NPPD has temporarily located additional mobile generators in the central part of the state during the summer months in order to help maintain reliability of the transmission system.

The need for the line was identified through the Southwest Power Pool’s transmission planning process, which is performed annually to assess system upgrades. The approximately $34 million transmission line is expected to be in service in the summer of 2018. Along with the transmission line work, the project also includes upgrades to the existing Ord substation and construction of a new substation east of Broken Bow.

This will be the second open house NPPD has hosted for this project, with the initial one held this past September and October in both communities. The open houses are held to allow potentially affected landowners the opportunity to learn more about the project, the corridor, need and benefit for the project, structure types, right-of-way acquisition, and routing criteria, and provide NPPD staff with information about their property, as part of the routing process.

For more information on this project, visit the website at www.nppd.com/muddycreek-ord, send an email to powerline@nppd.com, or call the project hotline at 1-888-677-3412.

(Note to Editors: A project corridor map for downloading can be found on the project website, www.nppd.com/muddycreek-ord)

Student-designed billboard emphasizes electrical safety

December 2, 2014

2014BillboardContest

Norfolk student recognized for holiday safety message

Norfolk, Neb. - Displaying lights and decorations is a time-honored tradition during the holidays.  But decking the halls with all the trimmings can also ring in unwanted safety hazards.

Nebraska Public Power District places a strong emphasis on educating students and the public about the benefits and safe use of electricity. So much so that a holiday electrical billboard design contest was held recently to deliver the message to students and adults that while electricity is important to our everyday lives extra care should be taken, especially around the holidays.

The contest’s theme was “Plug In To Holiday Safety.” The contest was open to both public and private school students in the fourth through sixth grades in Norfolk. The grand prize winner was chosen from the first place winners at each grade level, and the artwork and message were put on an electronic billboard across from the Sunset Plaza beginning this past Monday.

The grand prize winner was Gemma Mendez, a sixth grader at Norfolk Middle School. Her work will be displayed the billboard for the next four weeks. Her original artwork included the message, “Avoid Fire Hazards! Turn holiday lights off at night before leaving home or going to sleep!”

NPPD acknowledged the first, second and third place winners at each grade level with a certificate of participation. The sixth grade winner was Mendez, followed in second by Mary Fennessy of Norfolk Catholic and Juan Rojas from Park Avenue Christian School.

Fifth grade winners, all from Norfolk Middle School, included Keri Sanne in first, Chantz Ames second, and Mariah Hansen, third. Fourth grade winners, who attend Lincoln Montessori School, were Logan Bosh in first, Grace Reedy in second and Ryann O’Brien in third.

A total of 117 students participated in the contest with award winners receiving their certificates last week.

NPPD end-use customers to see no rate increase in 2015

November 14, 2014

Utilities buying power from NPPD at wholesale to see one half of one percent

Columbus, Neb. – For the second year in a row, retail customers of Nebraska Public Power District will see no increase in their electric rates beginning January 1, 2015; and wholesale utility customers of the District will see an average rate increase of only one-half of one percent. The actual percentage for wholesale customers will vary based upon the utilities’ usage characteristics.

NPPD’s Board of Directors approved the 2015 rates Friday morning during its November meeting.

President and CEO Pat Pope indicated NPPD’s efforts to reduce costs, without compromising reliability or safety, coupled with strong revenues from the District’s participation in the Southwest Power Pool’s energy market reduced the need for rate increases in both customer categories. Pope explained that more than $100 million has been taken out of the organization’s costs over the next six-year rate period.

“A couple of years ago, NPPD took a hard look at where we stacked up against other power providers across the United States,” said Pope. “And we found we weren’t where we wanted to be. I expect us to continue to be diligent about our costs, so we can get back into the best quartile – the lowest quartile – from a cost perspective. That’s where our customers expect us to be. That’s where we need to be, and we’re going to get there.” 

Drivers for the one-half of one percent increase for wholesale customers center around the construction of high-voltage transmission lines needed to enhance the reliability of the state’s electric grid for all utilities and, therefore, all Nebraskans.

Earlier in the year, NPPD had anticipated a higher rate would be needed for its wholesale customers. However, NPPD was able to reduce the impact by using $12 million from a rate stabilization account.

Retail customers of NPPD receive an electric bill directly from the District and reside in communities served by NPPD. These are customers in 81 communities throughout the state, including Scottsbluff, Kearney, and Norfolk.

NPPD’s wholesale customers include rural public power districts (e.g., Cornhusker Public Power District and Dawson Public Power District) and municipalities (North Platte, Valentine, and Beatrice) that purchase power from NPPD and distribute it to their end-use electric customers.

“We are public power,” said Pope. “Returning to our position as a low-cost power provider in the region is important. Anything we can to do maximize our reliability and lower our costs gets passed on to our customers for their benefit.”

 Note to news editors and directors: Video and audio clip of NPPD CEO and President Pat Pope on the retail and wholesale rates for 2015 can be downloaded at https://www.dropbox.com/s/oza344pevqdysl0/NPPD%20Pat%20Pope-Rates.mp4?dl=0

Also, a list of retail communities served by NPPD, wholesale public power districts and co-operatives, and communities can be found at http://www.nppd.com/about-us/who-we-serve/.

NPPD sets dates for eight public hearings on proposed R-Project transmission line

October 17, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – A series of eight public hearings on Nebraska Public Power District’s R-Project 345,000-Volt Transmission Line are scheduled to be held during the first two weeks of November. The hearings will be held in eight counties where the line route has been selected, with each meeting having a one-hour open house prior to the formal hearing.

NPPD plans to construct approximately 220 miles of transmission line from the District’s Gerald Gentleman Station, south of Sutherland, to a new substation to be constructed in Holt County. Besides the new substation in Holt County, a new substation will also be built at a location near Thedford. NPPD has not determined a final line route for the project.

This new transmission line will help enhance operation of NPPD’s electric transmission system, relieve congestion from existing lines within the transmission system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable energy projects.

The public hearings will be held at various locations November 4, 6, 10, and 12. The following schedule has been shared with landowners along the final route:

Tuesday, November 4 – Logan County Fairgrounds, 71 Highway 83, Stapleton; open house from noon to 1 p.m.; public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m.

Tuesday, November 4 – Holiday Inn Express, 300 Frontage Road, North Platte; open house from 6 to 7 p.m.; public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, November 6 – Thomas County Fairgrounds, 83861 Highway 83, Thedford; open house from noon to 1 p.m.; public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m.

Thursday, November 6 – Brewster Community Center, 250 Garfield Ave., Brewster; open house from 6 to 7 p.m.; public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

Monday, November 10  American legion, 657 G Street, Burwell; open house from noon to 1 p.m.; public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m.

Monday, November 10 – Loup County Community Center, 406 4th Street, Taylor; open house from 6 to 7 p.m.; public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, November 12 – Wheeler Central High School (new gymnasium), 214 5th Street, Bartlett; open house from noon to 1 p.m.; public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m.

Wednesday, November 12 – Chambers Community Center, 107 E. Main Street, Chambers; open house from 6 to 7 p.m.; public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

The public hearing, required under Nebraska statutes, are conducted to present the proposed transmission project. A hearing officer will facilitate the hearing and a court reporter will be used to document all presentations by Nebraska Public Power District and landowner comments and questions.

The first part of the public hearing consists of presentations on the project by Nebraska Public Power District and its engineering consulting firm, Power Engineers. The topics will include the need for the project, engineering aspects, line route selection, and the easement acquisition process. Once that portion of the hearing is completed, the public will have an opportunity to speak.

Any individual can supply testimony or ask questions about the line project in two ways. One way is for the individual to speak from the podium, state their name and county where the property is located, and either present information that they feel is needed about the project, or ask questions about the project. Comment cards will also be available for landowners who prefer not to speak at the podium, but desire to make a statement or ask a question. The comment or question will be read aloud during the hearing.

Prior to each formal public hearing, NPPD will host a one hour open house similar to the previous three rounds that have been held since January of 2013. Again, this will be an opportunity for the public to provide additional information regarding their property or ask specific questions about the project. NPPD representatives will also be available following the public hearing to meet with landowners.

Once the public hearings have ended, a 30-day comment period begins and will conclude December 12, 2014. Shortly after that, NPPD will announce the final line route and begin meeting with landowners for right-of-entry to conduct activities on the property. The initial activities include conducting surveys of proposed easement areas and proceeding with appraisal work. After engineering is completed, right-of-way agents will meet with landowners to fully explain the project as it relates to their specific property and explain terms and conditions of the easement needed for the line. NPPD strives for fair and respectful treatment of affected landowners during the entire process.

(Editor’s Note: Additional information on the R-Project including newsletters and a map of the proposed and alternative routes can be found at www.nppd.com/rproject.)

Cooper Nuclear Station addresses maintenance outage issue

October 13, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday evening, October 11, while shut down for a planned refueling outage, specialized contract technicians at Nebraska Public Power District’s Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville were performing a planned, underwater control blade “shuffle” where certain blades are replaced and others moved to new locations in the reactor core. One of the control rod blades fell from the lifting tool and came to rest atop the reactor vessel top guide in a section that contained no fuel.

Personnel responded appropriately, suspending all activities in the area to inspect and evaluate the fuel. NPPD is working with the contractor on an investigation as to the cause of the incident. The control blade was successfully and safely removed and placed in the proper location in the spent fuel pool early Monday morning. There was no increase in radiation exposure to workers, and at no time was the public at risk from the incident.

As part of its regular protocols, Cooper’s leadership informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission resident inspectors onsite and confirmed there were no indications of any adverse impact to the station’s fuel or radiation levels.

“This refueling outage is the 28th one we have performed at Cooper in 40 years,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Every maintenance outage can be accompanied by challenges. Our Cooper team remains focused on ensuring a safe work environment for personnel, adherence to procedures, proper job briefs and work oversight, as well as a commitment to completing the work in a manner that protects our employees and the public.”

Cooper’s control rod blades, approximately 14 feet in length, are x-shaped elements that occupy alternate spaces and separate the fuel assemblies throughout the core and are positioned axially within the core to control reactivity as part of the primary power generation system. The equipment plays a central role in plant safety by providing the principal means of quickly and safely shutting down the reactor during online operation. During refueling and maintenance outages, the reactor is shut down, which allows for these components to be removed and replaced.

This year’s refueling and maintenance outage utilizes a team of employees and contractors totaling 1,600 people expected to complete close to 4,500 work activities, including the replacement of approximately one-third of the fuel assemblies in the reactor core with new fuel rods to operate the plant for another two years.

Muddy Creek to Ord transmission line project open house events scheduled by NPPD

September 22, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Two open houses will be hosted by Nebraska Public Power District next week concerning the development of a line route for a new 115,000-volt transmission line from a new substation, to be called Muddy Creek and located near an existing transmission line east of Broken Bow, to an existing substation near Ord. The line will enhance the reliability of the transmission network in the immediate area.

The two open houses will focus on gathering information from landowners who have property within a study area that has been developed by the District.  The first open house for the 42-mile long line will be held September 30 at the Broken Bow City Auditorium, 314 S. 10th Avenue, in Broken Bow. A second open house will be held on Wednesday, October 1, at the Exhibit Hall at the Valley County Fairgrounds, 801 S Street, in Ord.

Project representatives will be available to discuss this project at the Open Houses from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Attendees should allow at least 45 minutes to walk through the displays and provide landowner information.

The new line will play a vital role in enhancing the reliability of the transmission system in central Nebraska where NPPD had voltage and loading issues in 2012, according to NPPD Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent. “A prolonged period of high temperatures in July 2012 combined with drought-like conditions, resulted in NPPD setting a record for peak electrical load needed by customers of 3,030 megawatts,” he explained. The result was that NPPD’s transmission system in the central part of the state was stretched to the limit during the record load period.

Over the past two years, NPPD has temporarily located additional mobile generators in the central part of the state during the summer months in order to help maintain reliability of the transmission system.

The need for the line was identified through the Southwest Power Pool’s transmission planning process, which is performed annually to assess system upgrades. The approximately $34 million transmission project is expected to be in service in June of 2018. Along with the transmission line work, the project also includes upgrades to the existing Ord substation and construction of a new substation east of Broken Bow.

Landowners in the study area have been sent invitations to attend either of these two open house events. NPPD officials noted that no routes have been determined at this time. At the open houses NPPD will collect information from landowners on land use, pivots, wells, planned facilities, residences, and other information. Each landowner will have the opportunity to identify this information and have it recorded into a GIS system that will be used in developing potential corridors for the lines.

“We invite landowners to come to either open house and give us information about their property, future plans, unique situations, locations of pivots and wells,” said Senior Project Manager Mike Hasenkamp. “This is valuable information that allows the project team to develop a line route that will minimize the overall impact.”

Additional information will be available on the need for the project, the route selection process, right-of-way activities, easement compensation, engineering, and environmental considerations.

The open house is one phase of NPPD’s comprehensive public involvement process that is used on its transmission line projects. To develop line routes for the project, NPPD will meet extensively with the public to obtain comments and other valuable information needed for the route-siting/decision making process, beginning with the public open house sessions. NPPD will use a variety of communication methods to interact with area landowners; local, county, and state government officials; and representatives of appropriate regulatory agencies.

The upcoming round of open houses will be the first of four rounds of public informational meetings NPPD plans to host. The first three rounds will be open houses and the fourth round will be a required public hearing.

For more information on the project, visit the website at www.nppd.com/muddycreek-ord/, or call the project hotline at 1-888-677-3412.