Elgin’s Bowes Creek area residents hire law firm to fight ComEd’s power line proposal
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN January 16, 2014 9:54PM
One of the subdivisions off Bowes Road in Elgin where residents have hired a law firm to represent them in opposition to the proposed ComEd Grand Prairie Gateway project that would include high-voltage towers near the property. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: February 21, 2014 6:09AM
ELGIN — A group of residents from the three Toll Brothers subdivisions around Bowes Creek Country Club is working with a law firm to fight a proposed high-voltage power line project in the area.
Lawyers plan to file a petition to intervene on the residents’ behalf against ComEd’s proposed Grand Prairie Gateway project, which would extend a new high-voltage electric transmission line between existing substations near Byron and Wayne.
The plan under consideration is for a 345,000-volt power line on steel towers that would be 165 feet tall and have four steel cross arms with a maximum width of 52 feet.
The 57-mile line would make its way through Ogle, DeKalb, Kane and DuPage counties.
According to the project’s website, PJM Interconnection, an independent regional transmission grid operator and planner for the ComEd service territory, has offered the chosen path as “the best solution for addressing current system congestion and ensuring the continued efficient flow of electricity across northern Illinois.”
Part of the route would be located just to the south of the Canadian National Railroad tracks and immediately north of the Bowes Creek Country Club and its series of Toll Brothers homes and townhomes. It also would come close to Otter Creek Elementary School.
Residents involved with Bowes Creek homeowners’ associations formed a committee, headed by John Kavalunas, that has been meeting since early December to discuss plans to combat or minimize the impact of the proposed ComEd project.
“The firm of Shay, Kepple, and Phillips from Peoria has been hired by one of our residents, and we are seeking a few more volunteers to hire the firm as well,” Kavalunas stated in an email.
According to Kavalunas, the firm has a history of representing individuals concerned about utility filings made with the Illinois Commerce Commission and will represent the residents as intervenors, providing direct testimony on the ICC docket filing by ComEd.
“The legal fees of the individual residents will be paid by voluntary contributions of the community to a legal fund set aside for this purpose,” Kavalunas stated.
In summer and fall, ComEd held public meetings throughout the proposed project zone, answering questions related to the proposed line and transmission structures and the next steps in the process, which included submitting an application for approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission, which it did late last year.
“We would like ComEd to consider running the lines underground for the less than a mile stretch along Bowes Road nearest our homes, as this is technically feasible,” Kavalunas said in December.
Among other issues that concern residents is that Regency at Bowes Creek Country Club is a collection of townhomes for people 55 and older. Such a population increases the likelihood that some residents would have pacemakers. Some residents say they are concerned about information on a National Institutes of Health website that warns pacemaker-wearers to stay away from high-voltage lines. Some also are worried after learning about a correlation — but not causation — between living near high-voltage power lines and incidents of childhood leukemia.
And golfers heading to Bowes Creek Country Club will see these power lines as they drive into to the subdivision to their rounds, lessening the visual appeal of the highly rated golf course, opponents say.
The Kane County Board’s Development Committee recommended Wednesday that the board approve a resolution calling for the state’s attorney’s office to file paperwork with the Illinois Commerce Commission “in order to protect the interests of the county of Kane, its highway system, natural resources, protected buildings and lands, and its residents, businesses and landowners.”
It says the proposed lines could have a negative impact on communities near them and suggests ComEd take those lines underground for portions of the route. The county board is expected to consider the resolution next month. In December, the Elgin City Council unanimously passed its own resolution in opposition to the proposal on the table.
The city would like ComEd to bury the lines or select another route, too. Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain said one of the prime concerns is what the presence of the lines might due to property values in subdivisions near them, particularly the residences of the Bowes Creek Country Club.
ComEd has noted that putting the transmission lines underground has not been considered “because they would not qualify under least cost requirements.”
Fred Fey, who lives in a Regency townhome, said he used to work for ComEd and would like to know more about what those costs would be and more about the environmental impact the project would have. His home would be about 250 feet from the towers.
Residents may comment on the proposed project at www.icc.illinois.gov. The case number is 13-0657. ComEd hopes to have a ruling from the ICC on the matter by sometime this summer.