Schaumburg, Elk Grove devoting cash to fight 140-foot power poles

  • Schaumburg, Elk Grove and three other suburbs are fighting a ComEd plan to install power line poles like these along the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway. ComEd says the additional power line is needed to improve reliability, but town leaders argue they lower property values.

    Schaumburg, Elk Grove and three other suburbs are fighting a ComEd plan to install power line poles like these along the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway. ComEd says the additional power line is needed to improve reliability, but town leaders argue they lower property values. Courtesy of ComEd

  • Proposed power lines

    Graphic: Proposed power lines (click image to open)

 
 
Updated 3/9/2016 5:35 PM

Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village are the first among a coalition of five communities to authorize funding to fight ComEd's plan for new overhead power lines on 140- to 170-foot steel poles along the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway.

Both village boards Tuesday agreed to spend up to $100,000 each to fight the proposal, which they argue would have a detrimental effect on aesthetics and property values along the route, as well as to navigation at the Schaumburg Regional Airport.

 

They soon expect similar but as yet unspecified amounts to be added to the war chest by Hanover Park, Itasca and Roselle.

The ComEd project is intended to connect substations in Bartlett and Itasca. ComEd officials say the project is needed to boost reliability for the thousands of customers served by the Bartlett substation who currently receive their power via a single line of wood poles.

ComEd spokeswoman Liz Keating said that when the plan goes before the Illinois Commerce Commission this year, any member of the public will be able to express objections during the review process.

"The one thing we want to stress is that because it's part of a process, it's not a done deal," Keating said of the proposed route. "There will be an entire process by which the ICC will vet the project. We're taking the steps we believe are important, but we don't want anyone to think we're going straight ahead with this."

The five neighboring communities fighting the plan -- none of which would be served by the new lines -- are asking that additional lines be buried. But ComEd points to a state law that requires it to pursue the least costly option for its customers -- in this case, the overhead lines.

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Schaumburg Village Manager Brian Townsend said the communities have been told that burying the lines could cost up to 10 times more than the $50 million to $60 million ComEd is budgeting for the project. Townsend said the five communities opposing the project have no interest in funding those additional costs, especially since they're receiving no benefit from it.

The money they're gathering to oppose the project would likely be spent on public relations, lobbying, legal fees, consultants and expert testimony, he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a statement endorsing Schaumburg's opinion that the poles would have an adverse impact on aircraft navigation at the Schaumburg Regional Airport.

Townsend said ComEd can appeal that opinion or sidestep the issue by burying the lines only around the airport.

The time frame of ComEd's review process before the Illinois Commerce Commission remains uncertain, but the five opposing communities expect to coordinate their efforts this month, Townsend said.

Hanover Park will hold a town-hall meeting with information and updates about the ComEd project at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, in the community room of the village's police station at 2011 Lake St.

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