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Senator Tom Brewer
Since I first took office in 2017, I have introduced legislation, prepared testimony for lawsuits, and petitioned every echelon of government I could think of to stop or change the route of the NPPD’s “R-Project” high voltage powerline. NPPD claims the line is needed for “load balancing and redundancy” which I do not doubt it will provide. But the main reason for the line, one NPPD will not acknowledge, is to provide future wind facilities a way to connect to the electrical grid. This incredibly bad idea will slice through the heart of Nebraska’s most beautiful and sensitive terrain in the Sandhills and inflict damage that will not heal in our lifetimes. Also, studies from wildlife biologists clearly show it will further kill the endangered Whooping Crane. I’ve asked the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy for help, but so far the agency has not intervened.
What could possibly be worth all this destruction? The answer is money for the small percentage of property owners and companies receiving federal subsidies paid to the owners of industrial wind turbines.
After a terribly incomplete and fundamentally incompetent EIS (Environmental Impact Study), the US Fish & Wildlife Service gave the green light to this wrong-headed project about a year ago. However, construction has yet to begin because the R-Project is delayed by a citizen-led lawsuit aimed at the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
This week I learned that a little more truth had been brought to light. Bluestem Energy Solutions (the parent company of Bluestem Sandhills) plans to build an industrial wind energy facility in Cherry County. The vast majority of citizens in Cherry County oppose this project. Last Tuesday, June 9, the Cherry County Commissioners approved extensions to the original CUP (Conditional Use Permit) that they originally approved in 2019. Bluestem Sandhills now has until 2024 to begin development of the facility.
This CUP extension was approved by Commissioners Martin DeNaeyer with Tanya Storer who seconded the motion. James Ward voted against the extension.
Bluestem cited the on-going litigation over the R-Project and issues with their “interconnection” request to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as reasons for their CUP extension. This makes the chief purpose of the R-Project powerline plainly obvious: connect wind turbines in western Nebraska to the power grid.
If the SPP interconnection queue is full, then what is the purpose of adding more wind energy to an already saturated market/grid? Nebraska already has over 900 megawatts of surplus electricity generation, enough to power a second city of Lincoln. What is the point of tearing up a very special part of our state to add additional transmission lines that will only result in more wind turbine facilities and more interconnection requests for a power grid that is already maxed out?
Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at email@example.com, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.