New Transmission Line Adds Reliability to GI Electric System

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It was a $6.5 million project in the works for more than three years, and last month Grand Island's northwest transmission line was finally energized, making it the city's fifth connection to the regional electric grid outside.

"Basically it's like getting another exit ramp to the interstate," says Grand Island Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger. "It's a big deal for us, it's going to really enhance the reliability of the regional electric grid around here."

Grand Island had to modify one substation and build another to connect the line. Utilities officials say expanding the city's transmission system, something that hasn't been done for 20 years, means if one line fails, the others can keep the power on.

"We have a ring around the city that provides power to the substations that are scattered around the city and this particular line will help in the event that we lose a section of that ring, we'll still have power to the substations even when that ring is compromised," says Assistant Utilities Director Travis Burdett.

The Utilities Department says the line itself was built from scratch - 131 steel poles stretching about seven miles, plus over 130,000 feet of wire. But they say construction was actually the short phase of the project, it's getting permits that takes the longest.

"It didn't make any difference if it was 7 miles or 70 miles or 700 miles, we still had to do the same amount of permitting and get the same type of approvals," says Luchsinger.

The transmission line also features a fiber optic wire that monitors the line for problems and lets Grand Island communicate with NPPD.

It's also made in a twisted configuration that helps prevent ice build-up.