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Since my last article, I have received a few more questions about the R-Line and wanted to give some additional facts about the project, as well as further explain my position. There are two groups in the Sandhills, one is opposing wind development and the other is opposing the R-Line, both are small but enthusiastic.
Senator Brewer and I have sat down with NPPD and had some very frank discussions about all aspects of the R-Line Project and how we have arrived at this point. Probably one of the biggest complaints is why does the line have to go north to Thedford and then east to Holt County. Why can it not go across country north east and avoid a greater distance and much of the sandhills. First, if you think of our electric grid as a spider’s web you will see there is usually a main framework of structural threads with lots of smaller and shorter interconnected threads. Well, northern and eastern Nebraska is missing one of those main structural threads that would keep the entire web from collapsing during a peak demand period or a severe weather event. Another piece of the puzzle is that the Legislature, before my time, passed a law that transmission lines can only be built on the mile or half mile lines. This is sound legislation, but it does make it problematic to build a cross country transmission line in a diagonal direction. Another fact is that most of Nebraska’s major transmission lines run east and west along the platte river valley. By building the R-Project it completes a path for power to continue to serve customers between west and east if there is another ice storm or wind event that takes down the electric grid in that area.
If you review the record, you will find I was one of the few Senators who filibustered LB 824 in 2016. LB 824 is the bill that really opened the door for wind development. The problems I have with LB 504 have to do with personal property rights and local control. First, personal property rights are very important to me as a landowner. Having the government interfere with the use of my land is something that I take very seriously. However, by the same token I must also respect the rights of my neighbors to do with their property what they see is in their best interest. There are local zoning laws in place in most of Nebraska’s counties to help with the siting of developments in an area, and that is truly local control.
If the state stands in the way of wind development what is next, pipe lines, electric lines, golf courses, center pivots, etc…? There are a whole host of well-funded groups who are just looking for an opening to advance their agenda of stopping capitalism and taking away our personal property rights, in any way possible.