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ComEd seeks input on route of new high-voltage lines through Kane

By 2017, ComEd hopes to string about 60 miles of new high-voltage power lines from central Kane County to near Byron.

But now, the electric utility says it still is seeking public input on where exactly those  new power lines should go in the region.

Later this year, ComEd said it expects to seek state permission for the so-called Grand Prairie Gateway Project. The effort would seek to run high-voltage transmission lines between its substation near Wayne and a substation in Ogle County, near Byron.

Richard Mathias, a senior consultant with PJM Interconnection, a company that manages the electric grid owned by ComEd in northern Illinois, said the new transmission lines are needed to make the regional electric grid more efficient and to reduce “congestion” on the local grid that is expected to worsen “substantially” in the next two to four years.

Mathias said PJM identified the need for congestion relief in recent years, and specifically brought the need for the new Wayne-to-Byron lines to ComEd’s attention last year.

Currently, there are no transmission lines running directly between the substations. Lines from the Byron substation interconnect with lines to the Quad Cities, Dixon and Rockford. And lines from the Wayne substation run to the Chicago area, ComEd said.

ComEd spokesman David O’Dowd said his company agrees with the need for the project. But he said ComEd has yet to select a route for the new lines.

He said an initial route selection will be presented publicly in August.

The route will be laid somewhere within a 700-square-mile study area. In Kane County, that study area includes northern portions of St. Charles, Campton and Virgil townships, as well as all of Elgin, Plato and Burlington townships, and portions of Hampshire, Rutland and Dundee townships.

O’Dowd said portions of the new transmission line route could run along existing power line routes within that area.

For now, ComEd is meeting with local government officials and local residents at various “open house” sessions. This week, ComEd met with members of the public during sessions in South Elgin, Sycamore and Ogle County.

More open houses will be scheduled in mid-August on the project, ComEd said.

Kane County officials said they have not been informed on the project beyond what they learned during open house meetings this month.

They said the county will withhold comment on ComEd’s proposal until the utility presents route proposals for the new transmission lines.

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