What is the Cass-to-Sarpy Transmission Project?

    The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) is planning to connect its Cass County Balancing Station to the utility’s new Turtle Creek Balancing Station in Sarpy County by building a new 345-kilovolt transmission line to cover the 23-mile distance. OPPD expects to announce the route for the new transmission line in December 2023. The utility would like to have the new transmission line in service by December 2026.  

    What is the purpose of this transmission line?

    As part of OPPD’s Powering the Future 2050 vision, a modern, higher-capacity path for south-to-north flows of electricity will help ensure all of OPPD’s service territory has plenty of electricity to meet increasing peak demands. The new line would also make the power network more reliable and provide important redundancies to reduce outages during extreme temperatures and violent storms. 

    What happens if OPPD doesn’t establish this connection?

    Extreme weather events in recent years, including tornadoes, floods and winter storms pose a bigger risk to OPPD’s power network if infrastructure upgrades aren’t made to make the utility’s grid more reliable and more capable of withstanding increased peak demands for electricity.  

    How else are you addressing the growth Eastern Nebraska is experiencing?

    The Cass-to-Sarpy Transmission Line is just one of many future transmission line projects. OPPD is examining all its infrastructure, both generation and transmission, to expand the utility’s capabilities to meet the increasing demands of our customer-owners for more power. 

    How is the final route determined?

    Stakeholder feedback, in addition to careful evaluation of environment, engineering and community concerns is valuable in helping OPPD make an informed decision on the final selected route. Important considerations include: Maximizing distance from homes, minimizing the number of private properties affected, and maximizing the distance from schools, parks, churches, and cemeteries. Stakeholder feedback is gathered at local leader meetings, open houses, through hotline calls and received comments.

    How will I know if my property may be impacted?

    OPPD is undertaking a routing, siting and public involvement process to determine the final route of this transmission line. Through this process OPPD will hear input from stakeholders through a variety of community engagement efforts including local leader meetings, open houses and feedback received from potentially impacted landowners to determine the final route. Once a final route is determined, OPPD will directly contact affected landowners to gather additional information used for the detailed design of the transmission line, and will explain the easement acquisition process.

    Will OPPD route the new transmission line along existing right-of-way?

    OPPD attempts to use existing easements where practical.  Sometimes there isn’t enough space along the existing right-of-way. OPPD will try to locate the transmission line with minimal impact to current landowners. 

    What is an easement?

    An easement is a right to cross or otherwise use someone else's land for a specified purpose. In this case, the project’s easement will permit the construction, operation and maintenance of an overhead transmission line. The easement also permits the trimming of and removal of trees to prevent them from interfering with the line.    

    How are transmission line easement widths determined?

    Many factors determine the width of transmission line easements, including voltage, structure design and proximity of the line to existing roads. Easement widths will be based on the final design to meet appropriate safety codes. 

    How will this impact my property value and/or property taxes?

    Transmission lines are typically sited in areas where there would be little to no impact on the value of land. No anticipated change would occur to property taxes. 

    Will OPPD acquire easements through Eminent Domain?

    OPPD prefers to negotiate with landowners without using condemnation proceedings. Our goal is to minimize disputes and find common ground for new easements that can be mutually agreeable and beneficial to both OPPD and the landowner. While OPPD can pursue Eminent Domain, the utility plans to pursue this process only as a last resort. OPPD wants to become a partner with landowners for a successful project, which includes helping the surrounding community grow. 

    What will this transmission line look like?

    The new transmission line will be carried on steel monopoles more than 100 feet tall, spaced about 800 feet apart. That’s more than two-and-a-half football fields between poles. The monopoles would be taller than the Midlands Hospital building in Sarpy County, but not as tall as the 200-foot Nebraska Crossing water tower near Gretna, NebThe Cass-to-Sarpy transmission line will comply with all applicable environmental permits and federal regulations. 

    How will OPPD pay for this project? Will this project affect my monthly utility rates?

    Funding for the construction of this project will come from the existing capital expenditure budget. About 95% of the cost will be recouped via the Southwest Power Pool.  Although this project would not directly create a need for a rate increase, any rate increase must be approved by the OPPD Board of Directors.