Plans to Power Keystone XL Pipeline Move Forward - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Plans to Power Keystone XL Pipeline Move Forward

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TransCanada could start shipping oil through parts of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline as soon as Wednesday, but the controversial project is stalled in Nebraska.

Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that the U.S. will not be pressured into making a quick decision on the pipeline, saying there are still questions that need to be answered.

The northern part of the project needs State Department approval because it crosses the U.S. border into Canada.

Amidst the uncertainty, the Nebraska Public Power District is moving forward with plans to power the pipeline.

NPPD held a second open house in Fullerton Tuesday to talk with landowners about the latest plans.

Leslie Beck, who farms west of Clarks, attended. NPPD staff helped him look at a map of his property to determine how a proposed 115,000 volt transmission line could impact him.

"It turns out it's not going to affect me because my farm in on the north side of the road and the proposed line will be on the south side of the road," he said.

But, the project it'll help power - the Keystone XL pipeline - will run through his property.

"I've signed the agreements and it's just waiting for the construction phase," said Beck.

He said he supports the pipeline, but other farmers at the open house told NTV they don't.

NPPD, however, isn't playing politics when it comes to the pipeline.

"By state statute we cannot select who we serve and who we don't serve," said Terry Warth, manager of Advocacy Group Relations for NPPD. "We don't have an opinion one way or the other as to the project itself."

The line that could help power the pipeline would run 16 miles, mostly north and south through Polk, Merrick and Nance counties.

It will be built between a substation to be constructed south of the Platte River near Clarks and a new Cornhusker Public Power District substation needed to serve a TransCanada crude oil pumping station southeast of Fullerton.

"The infrastructure out in that vicinity of the pumping station is not capable right now of handling the power it needs for that respective pumping station," said Warth.

NPPD is mapping every shed and pivot , asking landowners what they think about the preferred and alternate routes they've come up with.

"It's very important that we get their comments. We want to minimize the impact to the landowner as much as we possibly can," said Warth.

NPPD could just seize the land, but Warth said their track record proves that unlikely. He said the power company has used condemnation in less than 2 percent of their past projects.

NPPD said agreements with TransCanada ensure all costs incurred by the power company related to this project will be paid for by TransCanada, even if the pipeline does not get built.

This is the second open house NPPD has held on the project. The first, held last October, identified a general study area. Since then, NPPD and its consultants have narrowed or refined the line-routing selection.

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