Articles and Facts
Preserve the Sandhills believes in educating and learning about how transmission lines, wind farms, solar farms, hydrogen and/or biomass will affect you and the area that you live in.
Dear Cherry County Commissioner:
I am writing this letter to share my experiences derived from being directly responsible for the Construction of two Wind Farms and potential issues I feel may be encountered if these are allowed to be constructed in the Nebraska Sandhills.
I was directly involved in the 274 turbine “Cedar Creek Wind Project” built in 2006-2007 near Grover, Colorado as well as the 37 turbine “Macho Springs Wind Farm” located between Deming and Hatch, New Mexico. My responsibilities on both these projects were to oversee the construction of turbine access roads, foundation excavation and backfill, grading of turbine radius and crane pads, and the final restoration of the project at completion including re-vegetation of native grass on these sights.
The typical turbine access road includes construction of a gravel surfaced access road with 10 foot shoulders that are compacted and graded to allow access of large 450 ton cranes to walk from turbine site to turbine site to prevent costly tear down of cranes. These roads and crane paths can require large cut/fill scenarios the crane requires to be level enough both in graded and side slope to walk. The foundation are typically 8 feet deep and roughly 70 feet wide. The turbine erection areas require grading a radius of 120 to 150 feet to allow assembly of the rotor and blades before they are set with crane.
The bottom line is the dirt work is fairly invasive which is not a big problem on normal soils that are heavy in nature, but what keeps the sand from absolutely blowing away in some of the Sandhills areas? If turbine areas are stripped of vegetation and any organic matter needed to reseed to allow grass to re-grow is lost during construction how does one ever stop the continual erosion?
It is hard to predict how long Wind Turbine technology will remain viable, however if these are allowed to be constructed in the most fragile ecosystem I know of, that being the Sandhills, what scars will remain for many years to come? Of course, the decommissioning of these when they are worn out or unprofitable will reopen the damage that will be present from initial construction, that being erosion and removal of the Native Vegetation that holds the sand from moving.
The Art of Deception
The R-Project is a 345,000 volt transmission line intended to cross 225 miles of Nebraska to the tune of $363 million dollars. During the scheme of the creation of the R-Line Project, NPPD has been tasked with providing studies to satisfy the Draft Environmental Impact Statement supervised by the United States Fish and Wildlife Services. These studies are bought and paid for by NPPD, whom is now a finger of the Southwest Power Pool located in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of these such studies is on the North American Whooping Crane.
The Whooping Crane is not much different than the American Bison. Once upon a time, their population flourished. There were thousands roaming the prairies of the United States. This all changed when hunting and habitat loss were taken to the extreme and their numbers were diminished within reach of extinction. It is estimated that there were over 10,000 Whooping Cranes in the United States. In the 1940s, they dipped to 21. Today there are over 430 that migrate from Texas to Canada each year. We learned the tragedy of the buffalo at our hands. Let us ask you this: Why would we repeat it with the Whooping Crane or any other animal or bird?
Above is a map that demonstrates ‘The Art of Deception’ by NPPD. The black dots notate the historical data locations of Whooping Cranes that have been spotted across the State of Nebraska within the R-Project construction zone from the 1940s to present. This data was provided for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. According to NPPD, there will be little impact to the Whooping Cranes in the R-Project route, therefore they do not need an Incidental Take Permit.
Now, if you will note the orange dots, these represent 58 Whooping Cranes that were tagged with GPS location devices. This telemetry data, provided upon request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, represents a stronger and more accurate picture of the population of the Whooping Crane and the route in which they migrate.
The following is from NPPD’s website regarding the R-Project: “NPPD is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner. We are dedicated to protecting environmental quality while meeting the energy needs of Nebraska. We recognize that how we interact with the environment is of vital importance to you. It is to us, too.”
We live in a technologically driven world. There is no excuse for NPPD to use data that only favored them for such an enormous project that has the potential to negatively impact the State of Nebraska and its residents. To use data that is reliant upon the sightings of higher populated areas versus electronic transmittal, is simply NPPD playing the game of deceiving the public. We must protect rural America.
Industrial Energy Development
The R-Project has been stated that its main purpose is to relieve congestion on the grid and provide sustainability. It has also been stated that it will encourage industrial renewable energy, in the form of wind and solar, in rural areas of Nebraska.
Under the current Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) being reviewed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, NPPD has stated that only one (1) interconnection agreement for industrial wind energy is being considered.
In reviewing the Southwest Power Pool’s future interconnection queue, we note that there are five (5) industrial wind facilities that are being proposed once the 345,000 volt R-Project transmission line is constructed. The importance of this number is that NPPD does not acknowledge the entire impact that their line will have in the State of Nebraska. They have narrowed it down to one, which is the Thunderhead industrial wind facility in Holt County, Nebraska. The DEIS has a provision that specifies ‘Cumulative Impact.’ This should include all of the proposed facilities currently in the Southwest Power Pool queue, not just the ones that NPPD wants them to consider. The ‘Cumulative Impact’ of all of the industrial wind facilities, and those that follow once the door is opened, will forever change the face of rural America in Nebraska.
Rural Nebraska is known for its beauty in the plains. To deface it with enormous wind towers ranging from 400-600 feet tall, massive solar arrays and huge transmission towers, would be an insult to what Nebraska and Nebraskans are truly about.