Public Cites Farmland, Homes As Biggest Concerns In ComEd Expansion

Aug 14, 2013

Northern Illinois needs a faster, more reliable electrical grid. That’s why Com Ed is being advised to build a 57-mile-long high-power transmission line stretching across four counties. The company that supplies electricity to most of the region is holding open houses about the project it’s calling “The Grand Prairie Gateway.”

Today, the event is being held in South Elgin at the Lions Club and Thursday, it’s at the Farm Bureau in Sycamore. Both run from 4 pm ‘til 7 pm.

Tuesday, the first of this phase’s open houses was held in Rochelle. That’s where Richard Mathias compared today’s electrical grid to a congested tollway.

It costs more to drive your car, it takes longer and so forth, and that’s exactly true with the transmission system that’s congested. It costs more money to move electricity across the grid.

Mathias is a senior consultant for PJM Interconnection, an organization that coordinates the movement of electricity in 13 states, including Illinois. PJM recommended that ComEd build a new transmission line connecting its substations in Byron and Wayne, just east of St. Charles. That means building 12-story transmission poles all along the route…on private land. ComEd spokesman David O’Dowd says that’s why public input at this stage is so important.

This whole process is designed to be very transparent, and engage property owners on these important issues and reach an agreement about how to fairly compensate them for the use of their property.

Larry Blumeyer farms several pieces of land near Rochelle: all of the routes being considered pass through his property. He says there are still a lot of unanswered questions, including how much farmland he’ll lose…and how much ComEd will pay for the easement.

I understand the need for power transmission and all that, but I’d like to do what I can to ensure that it’s going to get where it affects as few people in a negative way as possible.

There’s still a lot of work left before the 200-million dollar project’s 2017 target date. Another series of public meetings is planned for early October to introduce the preferred and backup routes. And everything still needs approval by the Illinois Commerce Commission