Goshen News, Goshen, IN

July 13, 2013

New round of NIPSCO meetings set

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — Interested in learning more about the Northern Indiana Public Service Co.’s plans to build a new 100-mile electric transmission line from Reynolds, Ind. to Topeka? If so, you may want to check your calendar.

Beginning this Monday, NIPSCO will kick of its second round of open houses designed to help inform the public about the project and its potential impacts and benefits, as well as the current progression of the project.

During its first round of open houses back in February, NIPSCO indicated its goal was simply to provided interested parties with information about the project while also collecting public input on the proposal. With this next round of open houses, NIPSCO Communications Manager Kathleen Szot said the company has gone a bit further, with plans to provide several potential routing options for the new 100-mile electric transmission line.

Presented in an informal setting, Szot said, the open houses will feature several project team members at different stations throughout each venue to answer questions and provide additional information about the project.

“We’re actually expecting a significantly larger crowd for this particular round of open houses because with the second round we’ve identified some potential routes, so we sent out notices to anyone who lives within 1,000 feet of any of the proposed routes,” Szot said. “We’ll actually have several computer stations set up where the individual property owners can talk with some of our project team members and point out things on their property that they think we should be aware of. We will also have maps available to show people what potential routes we’re considering.”

The second set of open houses, which will each run from 3:30 to 7 p.m., are currently scheduled as follows:

• Monday, July 15, in Banquet Room C of the Shipshewana Town Center, 760 S. Van Buren St., Shipshewana;

• Tuesday, July 16, at the DAL-Mar Banquet Center, 159 E. Lincoln St., Nappanee;

• Wednesday, July 17, in Salon 1 of the Swan Lake Conference Center, 5203 Plymouth Laporte Trail, Plymouth;

• Monday, July 22, in the Winamac High School Gym, 715 School Drive, Winamac; and,

• Tuesday, July 23, at the Brandywine/Best Western Conference Center, 304 S. Sixth St., Monticello.

According to NIPSCO officials, the new 100-mile electric line will enhance system reliability while also offering environmental benefits by increasing access to wind and solar energy. It will also reportedly allow greater access to supplies of electricity including improved access to lower cost electricity for customers.

While the exact route hasn’t been determined yet for the line, Szot noted that the line will connect the Reynolds substation, Burr Oak substation and Hiple substation near Topeka.

Many factors are taken into consideration in determining a route, Szot said. These include public input as well as historic, cultural and environmental impacts. NIPSCO officials indicated that the route should avoid cities and towns since the area around the project will be mostly rural.

According to the project website, www.reynoldstopeka.com, the corridor will be approximately 200 feet wide based on the voltage of the line and height of the steel, single-pole structures, which will average 130 feet in height.

NIPSCO officials have said the project will create new jobs and business for local suppliers and the company plans to hire local labor whenever possible. The project will also reportedly improve access to existing and future sources of renewable energy, including Indiana wind power, plus protect the environment, according to Szot.

“The next step in the process after the route is selected will be securing all the right-of-way,” Szot said of the current progression of the project. “As part of that process, we’ll have a NIPSCO agent assigned to every property owner that will be affected to explain the right-of-way process and what they can expect on their land. Construction isn’t expected to begin until late 2014, so we’re giving about a year for all of those individual meetings and the negotiations for the right-of-way to take place.”

The project is estimated to cost $270 million and has a completion date of 2018.

To learn more

For more information about the Reynolds-Topeka electric system improvement project, visit the project website at www.reynoldstopeka.com or call 1-855-264-2219.