ComEd upgrading security around Buffalo Grove substation

In response to federal mandates relating to safety at key infrastructure sites, ComEd has been upgrading security around its substations.

Buffalo Grove's substation near Aptakisic Road and Buffalo Grove Road is one of the last in the pipeline.

Last week, the village's planning and zoning commission granted a variance allowing ComEd to build a 7-foot-tall fence around the substation.

The new fence will be equipped with one foot of outward facing, Y-shaped barbed wire, as well as 16-foot-tall posts fitted with security cameras.

The current chain-link fence is 6 feet tall with inward-facing barbed wire.

The commission granted three variances - the village does not allow barbed wires on fences, fences exceeding 6 feet in height or posts that exceed a fence's height by more than 8 inches.

The goal is to deter and delay any intrusions on the site, which is considered critical infrastructure. The Y-shape of the barbed wire requires intruders to employ additional tools, which makes the intruder more vulnerable to detection.

The substation is easy for passing vehicles and nearby homeowners to overlook. It is set back 320 feet from the southern edge of Aptakisic Road and about 600 feet from the eastern edge of North Buffalo Grove Road.

It is also 550 feet from the nearest residence.

A sniper attack on the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s Metcalf transmission substation in Coyote, California, in 2013 spurred the federal mandates for additional security measures.

ComEd has more than 170 substations in Illinois and Indiana.

"Our goal is to make this substation relatively unattractive for opportunists," said Christina Deuchler Heinz, manager of security infrastructure protection for ComEd.

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