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updated: 8/30/2011 9:58 PM

ComEd not on hot seat at Lincolnshire meeting

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  • Carol Sente

      Carol Sente

 
 

In their latest public meeting with suburban customers, ComEd representatives heard concerns about power outages and other electricity-related issues Tuesday night in Lincolnshire.

The gathering, at the Vernon Area Public Library, was fairly even-tempered. Audience members asked earnest questions about outages caused by this summer's record storms, ComEd's proposed smart grid and other matters, and the company's envoys either gave answers on the spot or pledged to personally follow up later.

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The anger expressed at previous sessions in Buffalo Grove and other towns was absent.

About 20 people attended the event, led by state Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat.

After a short PowerPoint presentation about the storms in June and July, the worst in ComEd's history, some audience members shared their personal experiences from those meteorological events.

Deerfield-area resident Laurel Swartz talked about losing hundreds of dollars' worth of food while her electricity was out for six days after the July 11 storm, which affected 907,000 customers.

Buffalo Grove resident Katie Green questioned the need for ComEd to bring in workers from 14 other states to repair the damage from that storm. Citing the state's financial problems, she suggested ComEd spend some money to hire local, qualified employees.

Mike Guerra, a vice president of external affairs for ComEd, said out-of-state crews were used in July because the damage was so extensive.

"It's called mutual assistance," Guerra said. "Our crews just went out east to help out there."

The proposed smart grid was the subject of several questions and a key part of ComEd's presentation. Such a system could help reroute power around a trouble spot and have other advantages over the current nondigital system, said Art Barsema, ComEd's director of external affairs.

People asked about the system's potential cost to customers -- which was estimated at $3 a month for a typical customer -- as well as ComEd's financial share of the project, which has been approved by the General Assembly but not yet by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Sente said she voted against the smart grid plan, adding that she hasn't yet been convinced it's right for consumers.

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