A petition with nearly 1,600 signatures of people opposed to a 220-mile-long power transmission line across the Sandhills was submitted Thursday to the Nebraska Public Power District.
Save the Sandhills, a grassroots group challenging the $361.5 million project, gathered the signatures to supplement opposition testimony during recent public hearings hosted by NPPD, said Aaron Price, whose family’s ranch would be affected by the project.
“There’s a lot of concern about what NPPD is doing,” Price said.
Opponents say the transmission line, if built as planned, would destroy the fragile ecosystem of grasses and dunes, adversely affect land values and hurt ecotourism and other businesses in the region.
NPPD wants to build the 345,000-volt transmission line, known as the “R” Project, across Antelope, Blaine, Garfield, Holt, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, McPherson, Rock, Thomas and Wheeler counties. The utility said the project is needed to improve transmission network reliability and to serve future wind energy projects.
The Nebraska Power Review Board approved the project in October and recently issued its final order. Price said area landowners are reviewing legal and other options.
NPPD, based in Columbus, has selected a preferred route for the line, said utility spokesman Mark Becker, and will be reviewing comments made at eight public meetings held last month. Selection of a final route is anticipated in late January.
Price said the opponents want NPPD to select another preferred route, preferably to the north. NPPD has said doing so would add millions of dollars in extra cost to the project.
NPPD’s 30-day comment period on the project ends Saturday, and NPPD will soon begin talking to landowners about getting access to their property for survey work.
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