By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Joe Hibschman of Syracuse was curious about the Northern Indiana Public Service Co.’s plans to build a new 100-mile electric transmission line from Reynolds, Ind. to Topeka. He attended an open house Monday at Tiffany’s Restaurant in downtown Topeka to find out more.
“I’m here out of curiosity,” he said. “We have a main power line go near us now, and I’m curious if it will go through our farm.”
There are many reasons for NIPSCO’s planned project. The 100-mile line will enhance system reliability, offer environmental benefits by increasing access to wind and solar energy. It will also allow greater access to supplies of electricity including improved access to lower cost electricity for customers, according to NIPSCO officials.
The exact route hasn’t been determined yet for the line. However, it will connect the Reynolds substation, Burr Oak substation and Hiple substation near Topeka, said Kathleen Szot, NIPSCO’s external communications specialist.
Many factors are taken into consideration in determining a route, Szot said. These include public input as well as historic, cultural and environmental impacts.
Szot said the project is estimated to cost $270 million and has a completion date of 2018.
Nappanee city officials recently met with NIPSCO representatives about the proposal.
“They brought in a plan with a map and made us aware of a public hearing for the area where the proposed project could happen,” said Kim Ingle, Nappanee city clerk/treasurer. “They wanted public input, and that’s a good thing to do.”
A second open house was also scheduled Tuesday at Nappanee Elementary School. Open houses are also scheduled for July.
NIPSCO officials indicate the route will be selected by the end of the year, with construction beginning in 2015.
“People are interested and glad we’re asking them for input,” Szot said during Monday’s gathering in Topeka. “We didn’t know what to expect with the reception of the people and businesses. There’s been a small, yet steady stream of people.”
NIPSCO personnel set up different stations with information and facts about each aspect of the project for the open houses. The route should avoid cities and towns since the area around the project will be mostly rural, NIPSCO officials said.
Community members were told at the open houses that NIPSCO would be purchasing easements — the right to use land for building and maintaining the transmission line — officials said.
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 say the project will create new jobs and business for local suppliers and the company plans to hire local labor whenever possible. The project will improve access to existing and future sources of renewable energy, including Indiana wind power, plus protect the environment, according to Szot.
An environmental review will be conducted in the preliminary state as part of the routing effort to avoid and/or minimize impacts to environmentally sensitive areas, said Richard Hall, Natural Resource Sustainability Principal of NiSource Corporate Services Company.
“There have been archaeological and endangered species studies on other sites and we rhave had to call in archaeologists at times,” Hall said.
To learn more
For more information about the Reynolds-Topeka electric system improvement project, visit the website at www.reynoldstopeka.com or call 1-855-264-2219.