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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Reliability driving new transmission line

May 13, 2022 | Jason Kuiper | reliability, T&D
transmission lines silhouetted against a sunset

OPPD is planning for a new transmission project, set to be one of the utility’s largest in years, to help maintain grid reliability.

Though very early in the process – initial steps including routing, siting and public involvement haven’t taken place yet – the line is set to move forward. The utility is estimating the line will be complete and online in 2026. The 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line will run from OPPD’s Cass County Station to Turtle Creek Station, the new natural gas facility being built in Sarpy County.

“OPPD’s System Planning engineers evaluated the need for expansion in this part of the system and subsequent development of the project concept as part of the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) most recent 10-year Integrated Transmission Plan,” said Dan Lenihan, OPPD’s director of System Planning.

SPP, as the regional transmission organization of which OPPD is a member, coordinates and develops the region’s transmission expansion plan. The line, along with a number of other projects around the SPP region, were approved in a January SPP Board of Directors and Members Committee meeting.

The plan for the line will be part of a presentation on OPPD’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan at the Nebraska Power Review Board on May 20.

“This line, which SPP and our internal planning group identified, is focused on maintaining grid reliability,” said Joe Lang, OPPD’s director of Energy Regulatory Affairs. “But there are a lot of other benefits as well, including enhancing the regional power market, supporting potential future load growth and adding new power generation such as bulk renewable energy and backup natural gas.”

SPP’s footprint spans all or parts of 14 states from North Dakota down the Texas panhandle, including Nebraska. The transmission system is comparable to the interstate system which connects cities to cities and states to states. Because the transmission system is so large and complex, planning for new transmission goes beyond local considerations.

As a member of SPP, OPPD participates in the SPP regional transmission expansion planning process. Projects like this help with any existing and forecasted transmission reliability issues along with wholesale energy market congestion issues. By planning and constructing transmission projects like this, OPPD can keep delivering customers the reliable power they depend on, said Dannie Buelt, OPPD’s director of Engineering.

Next steps

The last, large-scale transmission line project was 2018’s Sarpy Transmission Project (STP), a seven-mile, 161-kV and 345-kV, high-voltage overhead transmission line. Like that line, the new transmission line will go through a robust public outreach campaign allowing stakeholders to be involved as the process moves forward, said Shane Hanson, OPPD manager of Transmission Engineering.

Over the coming months, OPPD will work to onboard a consultant to ensure all work fits OPPD’s specifications, among other responsibilities. Then the routing process begins. Public involvement is expected to begin later in 2023.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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