COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — One of Nebraska's biggest utilities wants to build a 220-mile power transmission line across the Sandhills, but the project is drawing strong opposition from some environmental groups.
Nebraska Public Power District officials will discuss the preferred route they have developed for the power line at public meetings this week.
Project backers say the new line would boost wind power development in Nebraska and strengthen the electric transmission network in the region.
Rancher Dave Hutchinson said he's especially worried about damage that could be caused to the sandy soils in the area during construction. He's part of a group called Save the Sandhills that has more than 100 members.
"There's a tremendous amount of high hills and sand," he said. "It's very, very sandy. There's places you don't drive a pickup and they're going to bring in big trucks."
NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said the utility has experience doing construction work in the Sandhills and will repair any damage, such as blowouts that might develop if the grass holding the sandy soil in place is disturbed.
"The last thing we want is blowouts," he said. "It would create problems with the (transmission) system."
Becker said utility workers will use roads whenever possible, and the towers for the power line will use special foundations.