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Senator Tom Brewer
The recent decision by the federal court to put a halt to Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) R-Project high voltage power line continues to be in the news. The President and CEO of NPPD, Mr. Tom Kent, was quoted in the North Platte paper the other day with respect to the R-Project power line. He said, “Nothing’s changed from a factual basis to change our decision at this point.”
Speaking specifically to the route of the R Project, Mr. Kent also said, “From what we’ve seen, we’re in the best place from a utilities standpoint.” The article did not mention what would be considered the “best place” for this powerline from a citizen’s perspective.
The landowners’ eight-year struggle against this power line should have ended when the judge issued his ruling in this lawsuit. Given Mr. Kent’s comments to the newspaper, it is clear he intends to press on with this misguided project along the same bad route regardless. Unfortunately, NPPD can make decisions and do things the people of Nebraska have no effective recourse against. The only check the law places on NPPD’s power is their elected board. Given the history of the public being ignored on this project, this remedy is clearly insufficient. The people need a much stronger say in the laws that govern our public power entities in Nebraska. The process we use to site power lines in this state is broken. The statutes empowering public electrical utilities to conduct this process is badly in need of updating. A lot has changed since we decided to be the only state in the union with 100 percent public-owned electrical utilities.
I have often wondered why we need these new transmission lines intended to hook up new production capacity when the state has over 900 megawatts of surplus electrical generation. We have enough excess electricity in Nebraska to power a second city of Lincoln. Transmission lines are built to move electricity long distances. There are no industrial generators of electricity in the vicinity of the R-Project, unless you consider all the wind energy facilities that will sprout like weeds if this power line is ever built. Not taking the impact of those projects into consideration even though they are bound to be built is a part of the reason the judge said that the permitting process failed to follow the law.
When Nebraskans have to pay a lawyer and haul government agencies into court in order to get them to finally listen to them, something is dreadfully wrong with the laws that govern that agency.
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.