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Residents speak out on ComEd power line plan

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:48 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:51 p.m. CDT

ELGIN – Until Sunday, Rachel Lange and her fiance had been living in the home they bought in July without knowing their property intersects with the proposed route for ComEd’s Grand Prairie Gateway project.

The news, delivered by neighbors, crushed the young couple, who voiced their concerns at a public hearing about the project Thursday night in downtown Elgin.

“Our voice matters and our opinion should be heard,” Lange said, earning a standing ovation from some gathered inside Hemmens Auditorium.

Hosted by the Illinois Commerce Commission, the public hearing was a chance for residents to comment on and ask questions about the ComEd’s proposal to run about 57 miles of new high-voltage power lines from its substation near Wayne, just east of the Kane County line, to its substation near Byron in Ogle County.

Fidel Marquez, a senior vice president with ComEd, briefly outlined the purpose for the new power lines and acknowledged it is not a popular topic for landowners it will affect.

“We are here because your concerns and questions do matter to us,” Marquez said.

Elgin resident John Tomasiewicz – who noted he previously provided testimony on such concerns as property values and health effects – urged ComEd to act responsibly for the public good.

“ComEd’s only motivation seems to be corporate greed,” he said. “Please stop acting like a corporate bully.”

Tomasiewicz said ComEd hasn’t met the burden justified for the project and has ignored concerns from the Bowes Creek residential community.

“The ICC is our last resort,” Tomasiewicz said. “Do the right thing for the people.”

To file public comment about the Grand Prairie Gateway project, visit www.icc.illinois.gov/docket/comment/ or call 1-800-524-0795. Written comments can be mailed to Clerk of the Commission, Illinois Commerce Commission, 527 E. Capitol Ave., Springfield, IL 62701. The docket number is 13-0657.

Connie Jones of the River Ridge subdivision in South Elgin encouraged members of the ICC to visit the residential areas to get a better picture of how close the proposed power lines will be to the residents.

She also noted ComEd workers have been working in the utility company’s easements.

“Has the decision been made?” Jones said.

Tim Polz of Hampshire said he is comfortable with ComEd’s proposed route. But, he said, he learned that afternoon that an alternative route might be under consideration after a group of residents hired a lawyer.

He and his neighbors do not support that alternative route, Polz said, noting it goes through his backyard.

“Now we know about it, and you are going to hear from us,” he said.

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