Positive Reaction to Study Area Phase
Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) officials were pleased with response to the first two open houses Monday, Aug. 20, on the Midwest Transmission Project.
A late afternoon open house was at the auditorium and stage of the Auburn Public Schools Administrative Offices.
“People came out because they want to know what’s going on. It’s early in the process. We’ll probably get more interest as the process progresses. We’ve had a positive reaction to date. Hopefully, it’s something we can build on,” said Mike Jones of OPPD.
The Midwest Transmission Project is a partnership between OPPD and Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L). It includes planning, routing and construction of a 345-kilovolt transmission line. The line will be from KCP&L’s existing substation near Sibley, Mo. to a new substation south of Maryville, Mo. and to OPPD’s substation south of Nebraska City. The project was presented to OPPD officials from KCP&L officials.
Three Phases of Project
It is currently in the study area phase, the first of three phases of the project. The study area includes Nemaha, Richardson and Otoe counties in Nebraska; and Atchison and Holt counties in northwest Missouri.
The second phase is the preliminary route network phase. It includes preliminary routing and agency consulting meetings this fall. During the winter there will be advisory group/local leaders meetings and the second series of public open houses. Route analysis is planned next spring.
The third phase is the final route options phase. It will include advisory group meetings and the third series of public open houses next spring. The final route will be selected next summer.
Plans are to complete environmental permits in the winter of 2014. Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2015. Estimated in-service date of the line is the summer of 2017.
Besides Auburn, an open house was at Rock Port, Mo., Aug. 20. Other open houses were Tuesday-Wednesday, Aug. 21-22 at Falls City; and Mound City, Maryville and King City, all Mo. The final open houses are Thursday, Aug. 23, at Cameron and Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Input Sought From Public, Elected Officials
“Through meetings with the public and elected officials, we will learn about master plans for communities the next 5-10 years to take those into consideration as we determine the route. We don’t want to disrupt plans for parks, developments and business parks,” said Kent Herzog of OPPD.
“We’re seeking input. We are trying to come up with what’s important to the public,” said Dave Insinger of OPPD.
Bill Musgrave, media coordinator for the project, said the open houses allowed people to offer comments and suggestions for the project. Interactive computer stations were set up so those who attended can call up where their property is.
“They can make note of anything they want noted,” said Chad Ronchetti of Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, Mo.
“This is the first of three (series of) open houses over the year to keep people informed over the process. It’s a cordial, informative opportunity for us to hear from them and to share our project with them,” Musgrave said.
Purposes, Routing Considerations
Purposes of the Midwest Transmission Line are to reduce congestion on the region’s transmission system; improve reliability for electric utility customers and provide an access to additional renewable sources such as wind energy, Herzog said.
There are a number of typical routing considerations involved with the project. Those include: overall length; access and terrain; number of parcels crossed; visibility of the line to the public; and length parallel to existing pipelines and transmission lines. Also considered are proximity to residences; businesses; public facilities such as schools, churches and cemeteries; historic and archaeological sites; irrigation systems; new and planned developments; airport and airstrips; federal and state lands and conservation areas. Crossing of woodland, cropland, pasture/grassland, wetlands, streams and roads are also taken into consideration.
The Midwest Transmission Line is one of the priority projects approved for construction as determined by Southwest Power Pool officials. The projects will improve the regional electric grid. The Southwest Power Pool includes members in Nebraska, Missouri and seven other states serving more than five million customers.