STANTON, Neb. — The hot, dry summer of 2012 left the Nebraska Public Power District with much higher than anticipated electricity use, especially from irrigators.
Tom Kent, NPPD vice president and chief operating officer, said the district surpassed its record for energy use 30 times from July 3, 2012, to Aug. 10, 2012. The previous record for use had been set in 2006.
As a result, NPPD and other area utilities had to ask customers to reduce energy use to avoid outages, Kent said.
A new transmission line to north-central Nebraska would help ease such demand crunches in the future, he said Monday afternoon at a public hearing in Stanton on the plans.
The utility wants to build a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD's substation southwest of Hoskins to a new substation in the Neligh area.
Another hearing was held Monday evening in Norfolk and more hearings were Tuesday in Neligh and Pierce.
“The Hoskins-to-Neligh project is one of several ways the district is addressing the energy demands of this area,” Kent said.
There has been some speculation that the line has been proposed to support the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, but Kent said the 345,000-volt line is needed regardless.
“The need for this project doesn't really have anything to do with that particular pipeline,” Kent said. “All the load will benefit from this project in service.”
Kent said the transmission line would enhance reliability, provide a high-capacity feed to north-central Nebraska, reduce system congestion and provide opportunities for further wind generation.
NPPD's Randy Lindstrom said the line would address overages in north-central Nebraska and provide contingencies in the event of outages.
Joyce Pickle, an environmental project manager for HDR Engineering, which is assisting NPPD with the transmission line, said the project includes a new substation.
The preferred location of the substation is a 40-acre site near Neligh. The new substation will include four 115,000-volt transmission lines.
Pickle also discussed an alternative location, as well as four other line routes that were considered.
Lucas Nelsen, from the Center for Rural Affairs in Walthill, Neb., said the center generally supports the project.
Nelsen said the Center for Rural Affairs appreciates both the reliability the line would provide and the potential it has for wind energy development.
Nobody spoke against the proposal.