Construction of a 345-kilovolt transmission line in northern Illinois would save ComEd customers about $500 million over the first 15 years, officials from the utility say.
ComEd hopes to gain approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission this summer to build the line, which the company has dubbed the Grand Prairie Gateway Project.
At least one ICC staffer has expressed doubts, though, about ComEd's financial claims.
As proposed, the $250 million transmission line would run through portions of DuPage, Kane, DeKalb and Ogle counties. It would connect existing substations near the communities of Byron and Wayne.
In a meeting Wednesday with the Daily Herald Editorial Board, Fidel Marquez Jr., ComEd's senior vice president for governmental and external affairs, said the line would eliminate "congestion" in the existing power grid. It would also allow cheaper electricity to be brought into the northern Illinois system from the West.
"Think of an on-ramp that has become so congested that nothing can pass through," Marquez said. "And that ramp is what would allow the cheaper energy to come in."
Studies have shown that construction of the line would result in significant cost savings for consumers, Marquez said. ComEd estimates that the net savings, after the project cost is recovered, would be about $500 million over the course of the first 15 years.
In preliminary testimony about the project, an ICC economist testified that the Grand Prairie Project would not produce the financial benefits ComEd is claiming.
"Based on my analysis, the project's expected benefits do not appear to exceed its costs," Richard J. Zuraski said, according to documents posted on the ICC website.
Marquez said ComEd has filed a formal response rebutting Zuraski's statements.
The ICC will begin holding evidentiary hearings on the proposal in mid-April.
Marquez said ComEd expects a final decision to come in July.
For more on the project, go to ComEd.com/GrandPrairieGateway.