New ComEd substation primes Elk Grove for expected data center growth

ComEd broke ground Thursday on a new substation in Elk Grove Village in anticipation of new and expanding data centers in and around the new Elk Grove Technology Park and O'Hare market, officials said.

The massive 85-acre tech park - on the former Busse farm - is being developed just down the block from ComEd's new five-acre substation site at 1500 Midway Court. In addition to "clean" manufacturers, developers of the tech park have put a special focus on luring data centers. So far, the park's only announced tenant is Broetje-Automation, a German aerospace manufacturing firm.

Already, Elk Grove is home to about a dozen data centers - one of the largest concentrations in the country.

"And we're gonna get even bigger," Mayor Craig Johnson hinted at the substation groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon with village and ComEd officials. "It won't be too long till we have a nice announcement about how much bigger."

The new substation property - tucked between Higgins Road and the Jane Addams Tollway where an old one-story office complex was knocked down - will handle transmission systems and expand the utility's distribution network, tapping into existing lines strung across towers that border the property. It's expected to serve customers in a 5-to-10-mile radius across the Northwest suburbs.

ComEd officials say it will be the most compact substation they've built. All equipment and switching gear will be contained within one building. Typically, those mechanicals could be spread across a 40-acre site.

Only two transformers will be installed for now, though there's room for another two if needed, officials said.

The development follows the expansion of ComEd's Itasca substation in 2017. The area is served by two other substations in Elk Grove and one in Mount Prospect.

ComEd plans to turn on the switch at the new facility in summer 2021.

Farm to mainframe

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  Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, left, talks to ComEd officials at a groundbreaking Thursday for the utility's new substation. Christopher Placek/
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