Following three and a half years of planning, public meetings and construction, Nebraska Public Power District officials energized a new 345,000-V transmission line Friday.

The 80-mile power line, officially called the Electric Transmission Reliability Project for East-Central Nebraska, was built between Columbus and Lincoln, Nebraska. It will play a key role in the state’s transmission grid and help ensure the continued safe and reliable delivery of electric energy in east-central Nebraska.

NPPD’s Senior Project Manager Craig Holthe commented that the public was instrumental in bringing the ETR Project to its completion.

“From day one, NPPD made public involvement a key component of the line routing and construction process, and we appreciate all the support we received,” Holthe said. “Generally, what we’ve experienced throughout this project is that the public understands the need for this new line, and they’ve been willing to participate in the process.”

As an example of this, nearly 98 percent of the easements needed for the new line were signed.

Record demand for electric power in the summers of 2005 and 2006, along with a transmission study completed by NPPD in May 2006, indicated the need for NPPD to build additional transmission infrastructure in the east-central part of the state. The approximate $152 million project began in 2006 and consisted of two phases.

Phase 1 included the upgrade of an existing portion of transmission line running north of Columbus, as well as upgrades to a substation outside of Norfolk. The voltage level of the line increased from 230,000 volts to 345,000 volts. Phase 1 also involved the construction of the new Shell Creek Substation north of Columbus.

Phase 2 of the ETR Project included construction of 80 miles of new transmission infrastructure between Columbus and Lincoln, upgrades to an NPPD substation southeast of Columbus and to a Lincoln Electric System substation west of Lincoln.