Rob Kirkpatrick appeared before the Logan County Regional Planning
Commission with a zoning request for conditional use of agriculture.
Kirkpatrick works in the real estate department of Ameren.
Will D'Andrea, Logan County zoning officer, facilitated
discussion of the matter.
Kirkpatrick told commissioners that the new switching station
would resolve issues for three transmission lines. The proposed
station "corrects a need that has existed a long time," he said.
The three major electric suppliers in the area merged over the
years to become two and now one company, Ameren. This area is on the
southern edge of what was the Cilco territory and the northern edge
of what was Illinois Power. Kirkpatrick explained that the combined
systems and equipment carried some compatibility issues.
"There are some internal switching issues that this station will
resolve," Kirkpatrick said. "Years ago, equipment was mounted on the
poles. It created a reliability issue, and they would have to send
someone out to manually fix the trip breakers and other issues."
The substation will aid in the reliability of the system that
manages the three major transmission lines of 138,000 volts.
Distribution from the new substation would feed 34 substations over
sub-transmission lines of 34 kilovolts or 69 kilovolts, and the
local distribution lines would be 12 kilovolts.
Bret Aukamp, Logan County highway engineer, asked about potential
effects on local infrastructure, railroad, highways and Salt Creek,
or changes to get around them.
Kirkpatrick said no major changes are expected for the routes of
the three transmission lines, which basically already meet right
there. One line runs to Latham, one runs up Interstate 55 and
another to Mason City. There might be some work right around the
substation, but it wouldn't affect outlying infrastructures.
Kirkpatrick explained that there is a movement by Ameren to make
all easements uniform in width, so there could be some widening of
rights of way in places in the county, but that is unrelated to the
development of the substation.
Planning commission member Derrick Crane asked if the new station would
accommodate the needs of the Sugar Creek One wind farm that is
expected to build west of Lincoln.
Kirkpatrick said the wind farm needs are what triggered the idea
of the substation. Wind farm representatives contacted Ameren
because they needed a place to dump into the transmission system.
"There's still a lot of engineering that needs to take place in
order to accommodate that," he said. He then referenced places on
the drawings that say potential future expansion, which are for the
wind farm's purposes.
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The property has already been purchased and is located south of
Madigan Park and the prisons, just outside Lincoln city limits. The
34-acre area is now farm ground, parcel number 11-015-013-20, in the
northwest part of land bordered by the railroad, 1300th Street and
The site chosen is structurally ideal in that it is close enough
to where the three major lines come together, and it does not
require crossing other major infrastructures or creeks. It also
offers aesthetic value in that it is bordered to the west by the
railroad, by a grove of trees and a line of trees on other sides.
"When we have the opportunity, we like to use natural barriers
that visually obstruct the substation," he said. "Electric
substations are not the prettiest thing in the world."
According to Kirkpatrick, Ameren is always working to improve its
services. In his work, he aids the company in finding locations all
over the state, purchasing property, in permitting processes and
disposing of properties as they are no longer needed.
The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend the
conditional use of the land zoned for agriculture.
Planning commission members present for the vote were chairman
Bill Graff, vice chairman Jim Fuhrer, Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder,
Bill Martin, Derrick Crane, Blair Hoerbert and Gerald Lolling.
On Thursday, the zoning board of appeals met in Broadwell to hear
the request and added a variance for road construction.
One of the few in attendance at public hearing by the appeals
board was Stan Komperda, the project manager of Sugar Creek One.
Komperda said that he and American Wind Energy Management supported
There were also a couple of adjacent property owners who asked
questions about drainage and how it would be handled.
The appeals board recommended approval with the following
commissioner approval of the driveway permit, including drainage
plans for what could impact right of way.
Plan demonstrating drainage so as to
not negatively impact adjoining property.
The matter would next go to the Logan County Board for final
approval. It is expected to be voted on Sept. 17.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]