East Dundee Village President Lael Miller has filed a formal complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission against ComEd, alleging the utility caved to political pressure and tried to block an auto auction business from coming to the village.
"This is not the type of behavior that we, as the public, expect from Commonwealth Edison," Miller said. "It's harmful to our efforts in attracting business and it's certainly worth the $7.17 in postage for me to file the paperwork to fight this."
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Miller mailed the complaint Friday to the ICC, saying he hopes the body overturns ComEd's refusal to grant Insurance Auto Auctions use of its easement on Commonwealth Drive. IAA, which sells wrecked cars to the highest bidder, wanted to access its future home in East Dundee through the ComEd-owned easement on Commonwealth Drive.
But ComEd did not respond to IAA's request to use the easement for more than a year, the complaint said, and when it finally did, the answer was no. In a letter to IAA, ComEd said its denial was based on concerns about IAA's potential environmental impact on ComEd property.
"In ComEd's assessment, IAA operations could pose environmental concerns due to the potential discharge of fluids such as fuels and motor oil and other materials that could cause a negative environmental impact to ComEd's property," ComEd spokeswoman Martha Swaney said in a statement.
Former Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud and many Barrington Hills residents living near IAA's future site also fear those fluids will pollute their groundwater. Earlier this year, Abboud relayed videos and photographs he captured at IAA's Wheeling site, as well as an official complaint to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He also brought the issue to Wheeling's attention.
Wheeling eventually issued a citation to IAA for discharging stormwater onto ComEd property, though the state EPA said it found no major issues at IAA's Wheeling site.
Abboud said he later sent his Wheeling information to ComEd President and CEO Ann Pramaggiore and to her husband, Michael Harrington, a trustee on the Barrington Hills village board, and urged them to deny access to the easement. The couple live in Barrington Hills.
In Miller's opinion, ComEd's denial was based on political pressure instead of the facts. If ComEd had gotten back to IAA sooner, he's sure the project would be already up and running.
But as it stands, according to Miller, East Dundee is out hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, and IAA has to spend $695,000 to access its own property from another road.
"We're working as hard as we can to bring revenue and to bring business into our town, and something that is geared to not allowing a business in town is harmful behavior," Miller said.