Kane County officials signaled Wednesday they will oppose the primary route ComEd envisions for power lines and towers associated with the new Grand Prairie Gateway project. But when county board members put on their forest preserve commission hats Friday, they are likely to hear that opposition isn't enough.
The county board's development committee voted Wednesday to fight portions of the power lines that will run near residential property, farmland and forest preserves. The lines are part of a $200 million effort to improve electricity transmission between substations in Byron and Wayne.
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That 57-mile stretch spans four counties and will require the construction of about 400 steel towers. ComEd officials say the proposed route is the shortest and most cost-effective for its customers.
Kane County and other municipalities along the route, including Elgin, have either approved or drafted resolutions criticizing the location of the lines. The resolutions are similar in calling for buried utility lines wherever possible. Above-ground lines and towers can decrease property values and fuel environmental and health concerns, the resolutions read.
On the county side, that's where the protest will likely rest.
"In the end, we have no power, as the county, to prohibit this from happening," board member Kurt Kojzarek said. "It is a situation that nobody is really happy with, so we will help however we can to mitigate the impact."
A group of local homeowners and farmers will be happy to hear that if the sentiment carries over to the county board members' forest preserve district duties.
The proposed route for the lines runs through several local farms and other private properties. But forest district commissioners have the ability to ask ComEd to reroute those lines and towers through the Muirhead and Otter Creek forest preserves and keep those private properties off the route.
The forest preserve district's Planning and Utilization Committee will consider its own resolution expressing concern about the route of the power lines Friday. The current draft does not encourage the placement of the lines in the forest preserves.
"Impacts should be mitigated to the maximum extent including, but not limited to, minimizing the impact to forest preserve land, habitat, wildlife and appropriate sections should be run underground," the resolution reads.
Residents near the forest preserves who would see the lines run through their property have promised to come to the meeting with a presentation of why the lines would be better off running along an existing railroad line in the preserves.