'Clock is ticking': Hoffman Estates demands regular updates on improvements by ComEd this fall

Hoffman Estates officials Monday assured residents weary of decades of promises by ComEd that greater accountability would accompany its latest plan to address frequent outages in three southeastern neighborhoods.

Trustee Gary Pilafas told 16 residents who'd spoken of their years of frustration with the electric company that he had managed to yield positive results from ComEd as a homeowners association president 22 years ago.

"Based on that I'm going to ask you for your trust, to give these people a chance, give us a chance to hold them accountable," Pilafas said after a ComEd team described an infrastructure improvement program running through early 2023.

He called on the ComEd team, led by External Affairs Manager Joseph Turnage and North Region Reliability Manager Scott Wethy, to provide the village with an update on its progress every month for the next three months.

"If the accountability isn't there, one of us will make a motion that includes the filing of litigation to the (Illinois Commerce Commission)," Pilafas said. "It essentially opens a hearing with the five people that chair the ICC that the governor appoints. So the clock is ticking on 90 days from my perspective."

Turnage replied, "Thanks for that, Trustee, and trust me, we share your sentiments as well."

Residents had complained of a lack of reliability stretching back to the 1970s and '80s. Three men spoke of the risk to their health from their reliance on CPAP machines while they sleep, while a woman who works remotely said she regularly has to explain the interruption of power to her home to her boss.

Democratic state Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates said he lives near the hard-hit areas and offered his own help in finding a quick solution.

"I hope that they do deliver," Crespo said. "I'm very concerned about how long it's going to take. ... If there's anything I can do as a state rep, either reach out to the ICC or put more pressure on Commonwealth Edison to meet the expectations that the people back here have, I'll be there."

The ComEd representatives spoke of upgrades to their infrastructure in Hoffman Estates in the past decade that led to a 45% improvement to the frequency of interruptions per customer. They added that 47% of interruptions this year were due to storms on June 13 and July 4.

However, Trustee Karen Mills was among those who complained of outages on calm, quiet days.

Mayor Bill McLeod also voiced his skepticism.

"I think you probably have a lot of people in this room that don't quite buy the reliability part of what you presented," he said.

But Trustee Karen Arnet said the ComEd team was listening with concern and taking notes on the complaints of every resident who spoke.

ComEd North Region Reliability Manager Scott Wethy. left, and External Affairs Manager Joseph Turnage heard complaints from residents and Hoffman Estates leaders Monday night at the village board meeting. Courtesy of Hoffman Estates
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