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Nebraska Power Review Board Transmission Approval (8-NE-a)

Information current as of 2020
In Nebraska, a developer may need Approval from the Nebraska Power Review Board (“NPRB”) to construct, operate and maintain electric transmission lines that exceed 700 volts. 70 N.R.S. § 1012(1). Any electric generating facility, or transmission line, or related facilities constructed or acquired by any electric supplier “carrying more than seven (700) volts” must first receive NPRB approval. 70 N.R.S. § 1012(1); 285 N.A.C. § 2-002. An electric supplier is “any legal entity supplying, producing, or distributing electricity within the state for sale at wholesale or retail.” 70 N.R.S. § 1001.01(2). An electric supplier also includes private electric suppliers “producing electricity from a privately developed renewable energy generation…” 70 N.R.S. § 1001.01(3).

NPRB regulates transmission lines pursuant to Nebraska – 70 N.R.S. §§ 101 et seq., Power Districts and Corporations; Nebraska Regulations – 285 N.A.C. §§ 2-001 et seq., Rules and Procedures for Construction of Electric Transmission Lines; Nebraska Regulations – 285 N.A.C. §§ 3-001 et seq., Rules of Practice and Procedure Before the Nebraska Power Review Board.

Power Review Board Transmission Approval Process

8-NE-a.1 to 8-NE-a.5 – Is the Project Exempt from NPRB Approval?

NPRB approval is not required for the:

  • “Construction or acquisition of a transmission line extension or related facilities within a supplier’s own service area or for the construction or acquisition of a line not exceeding one-half mile outside its own service area when all owners of electric lines located within one-half mile of the extension consent in writing and such consents are filed with the NPRB;
  • Acquisition of transmission lines or related facilities, within the state, carrying 150,000 volts or less, if the current owner of the transmission lines or related facilities notifies NPRB of the lines or facilities involved in the transaction and the parties to the transaction;

70 N.R.S. § 1012.

In addition, NPRB approval is not required for general maintenance reconductoring of electric transmission lines. Recondutoring is defined as “replacing an existing conductor with a new or single conductor that does not also involve increasing the voltage capability of the current transmission line.” Nebraska Power Review Board – Board Policy No. 8, Reconductoring of Lines. General maintenance is where the process does not involve an increase in the voltage of a transmission line in current use and does not involve a change in the physical location of a transmission line. Nebraska Power Review Board – Board Policy No. 8, Reconductoring of Lines.

NPRB approval is also not required for the interconnection of any renewable generation projects considered “qualifying facilities” under the Public Utilities Regulatory Act of 1978. Nebraska Power Review Board – Board Policy No. 12, Qualifying Facilities.

If the project is exempt from NPRB approval, the developer must still submit the NPRB – Transmission Application with NPRB in order to create a record of the project involved and the consent. In these circumstances, NPRB’s executive director, in general, can administratively approve the NPRB – Transmission Application. The executive director’s administrative approval consists of a letter confirming the NPRB – Transmission Application was properly completed and that the developer (applicant) has filed all necessary Consent and Waiver Forms with NPRB. NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

8-NE-a.6 – Application for Acquisition or Construction of Transmission Line

The developer must submit a complete Nebraska Power Review Board – Application for Acquisition or Construction of Transmission Line (Appendix B) (“NPRB – Transmission Application”) to NPRB. The NPRB – Transmission Application must include, at minimum, the following:

  • Applicant (developer) name, address, and contact information;
  • A description of the proposed electric transmission line;
  • A description of the engineering specifications;
  • The purpose of construction and description of related facilities;
  • Name, address, and type of customers to be served;
  • Maps and other related exhibits showing location of proposed transmission line and related facilities;
  • Estimated start date and completion of construction date;
  • Estimated cost of construction;
  • A list of the owners of electric generation facilities, electric transmission lines, and/or related facilities, and any other interested parties;
  • Waivers and consent forms from interested parties; and
  • Any other information deemed necessary and useful in consideration of the Application.

Nebraska Power Review Board – Application for Acquisition or Construction of Transmission Line (Appendix B).

8-NE-a.7 to 8-NE-a.8 – Review Application for Completeness

The executive director of NPRB and/or paralegal reviews the NPRB – Transmission Application for administrative and technical completeness. NPRB may request any additional information from the applicant (developer) as necessary to make a decision on the NPRB – Transmission Application. NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4; Nebraska Power Review Board – Application for Acquisition or Construction of Transmission Line (Appendix B). NPRB then summarizes the NPRB – Transmission Application findings on an Application checklist. NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

NPRB “may also allow amendments to the NPRB – Transmission Application, in the interest of justice.” 70 N.R.S. § 1013(1).

8-NE-a.9 – Publish Notice of Application and Public Hearing

NPRB must publish notice of the public hearing and NPRB – Transmission Application, if required, at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing by mail to power suppliers affected by the NPRB – Transmission Application. 70 N.R.S. § 1013(1). NPRB sends A Notice of Filing and Hearing Date, along with a copy of the NPRB – Transmission Application via certified mail to the applicant (developer) and any other parties that NPRB deems potentially interested. NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

In general, when a NPRB – Transmission Application “involves 34.5 kV transmission line or larger and is at least 5 miles in length a hearing date will set and notice is to be provided to the following entities:

  • Any municipality that is in the general area;
  • Any other transmission-owning utility that owns or operates facilities with which the new facility will interconnect;
  • The electric power supplier that holds the retail service area rights to the geographic territory where the facility will be located;
  • If the transmission line will cross or come in close proximity to another transmission facility, NPRB may provide notice to the owner of that line;
  • Notice to the general public will be published in at least one newspaper with general circulation in the area where the project will be located, or that covers a large part of the applicant’s (developer) service area.”

Nebraska Power Review Board – Board Policy No. 16, Notice Criteria for Transmission Applications; NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

8-NE-a.10 – Hold Public Hearing (If Applicable)

NPRB must hold a hearing regarding the NPRB – Transmission Application within 60 days from the filing of the Application. However, NPRB may schedule a hearing later, but not more than 120 days after the filing of the Application, if the applicant (developer) for good cause requests in writing a later hearing date. 70 N.R.S. § 1013(1). Any parties interested may appear, file objections, and offer evidence regarding the NPRB – Transmission Application. 70 N.R.S. § 1013(1). Any parties that are not interested power suppliers will need to demonstrate standing before becoming a party to the proceeding. NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

At the hearing NPRB must hear “testimony and receive other evidence relating to the matter and may continue the hearing…” if necessary. 70 N.R.S. § 1006.

Note: NPRB may grant the NPRB – Transmission Application without notice or hearing, upon the filing Nebraska Power Review Board – Consent and Waiver Application (Appendix D), if in its judgment the finding required by 70 N.R.S. §§ 1014, 1014.01 can be made without a hearing. However, an Application concerning a generation or large transmission facility normally requires a public hearing. NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

“A Consent and Waiver Form is a document whereby a power supplier that is an interested party or potentially interested party to an Application formally notifies the NPRB that it consents to the NPRB approving the Application, it stipulates the applicant (developer) can meet the approval criteria, it waives its right to receive further notices regarding the matter and it waives its right to a hearing.” NPRB – Orientation Manual, Chapter 4.

8-NE-a.11 to 8-NE-a.12 – Does NPRB Approve the Application?

NPRB must make a decision to approve or deny the NPRB – Transmission Application within 60 days after the conclusion of the hearing. 70 N.R.S. § 1013(1). NPRB must find that the NPRB – Transmission Application will serve the “public convenience and necessity, and that the applicant (developer) can most economically and feasibly supply the electric service resulting from the proposed construction or acquisition, without unnecessary duplication of facilities or operations.” 70 N.R.S. § 1014.

“If the NPRB – Transmission Application involves a transmission line or related facilities planned and approved by a regional transmission organization (“RTO”) and the RTO has issued a notice to construct or similar notice or order to a utility to construct the line or related facilities, NPRB must consider information from the RTO’s planning process.” 70 N.R.S. § 1014(2). NPRB may also “consider the benefits to the region provided by the line or related facilities as part of NPRB’s process in determining whether to approve or deny the NPRB – Transmission Application.” 70 N.R.S. § 1014 (2).

8-NE-a.13 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any aggrieved party to a final action of the NPRB may file an appeal to the Court of Appeals. 70 N.R.S. § 1016.

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