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Elgin forum on ComEd power line project set for Feb. 1 at ECC

Existing utility lines behind one subdivisions off Bowes Road Elgin. Residents there are opposed proposed ComEd GrPrairie Gateway project thwould

Existing utility lines behind one of the subdivisions off Bowes Road in Elgin. Residents there are opposed to the proposed ComEd Grand Prairie Gateway project that would include high-voltage towers near the property. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: February 25, 2014 6:23AM

ELGIN — A community forum concerning ComEd’s proposed Grand Prairie Gateway power line project has been set for 10 a.m. Feb. 1 at in the Seigle Auditorium, Building E, at Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive.

In a bipartisan move, state Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-South Elgin) and state Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) are hosting the event, which will feature local leaders, community group representatives and ComEd officials.

The plan under consideration is for construction of a 57-mile line between existing substations near Byron and Wayne, extending through Ogle, DeKalb, Kane and DuPage counties. The 345,000-volt power line would be on steel towers 165 feet tall with four steel cross arms up to 52 feet wide.

The project is meeting opposition on several fronts.

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 in Elgin — on the city’s far-southwest side — would be just 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 in the three Bowes Creek homeowners’ subdivisions formed a committee, headed by John Kavalunas, that recently hired a law firm to file a petition to intervene on their behalf in their opposition to the project. The firm of Shay, Kepple, and Phillips from Peoria was chosen, as it has a history of representing individuals with utility filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission, and it will represent the residents as intervenors, providing direct testimony on ICC docket filing by ComEd, Kavalunas said.

This week, city of Elgin Corporate Counsel William Cogley said, “The city also will be filing a petition to intervene in the ICC proceedings.”

In December, the Elgin City Council unanimously passed its own resolution in opposition to the current proposal. The city would like ComEd to bury the lines or select another route. Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain said one of the prime concerns is what the presence of the lines might do to property values in subdivisions near them, particularly the residences of the Bowes Creek Country Club.

And on Jan. 15, the Kane County Development Committee recommended that the Kane County Board approve a resolution that calls for the Kane County state’s attorney to file paperwork with the ICC “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 noted that 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.

Citizens may comment on the proposed project at The case number is 13-0657. ComEd hopes to have a ruling by the Illinois Commerce Commission on the matter by sometime this summer.

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