ST. CHARLES – Crowds gathered around maps and displays Thursday at the Kane County Fairgrounds, looking for information about ComEd’s proposed Grand Prairie Gateway.
ComEd wants to build 60 miles of 345 kilovolt lines, from its substation near Wayne through Kane to Ogle County, at a cost of about $200 million. Its purpose is to make the regional power grid more efficient and to head off distribution problems it anticipates will worsen.
Robert Greenfield and Don Helbrg of Elgin said they came looking for answers.
“I think what they’re proposing is sensible,” Greenfield said. “I don’t know the full details, but they have to do something. They have to look ahead. And that is what I’m seeing.”
Helbrg said he was interested in the height of the towers and the distance from where he lives.
“It was very good, they answered our questions,” Helbrg said.
ComEd spokesman David O’Dowd said the primary and alternate routes of the new power lines have to be submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission by the end of 2013, and then the commission has 225 days to rule, by July 2014.
“Assuming that they approve the proposed route, construction would begin by early 2015 and possibly late 2014,” O’Dowd said.
The last open house will be from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, 1350 W. Prairie Dr., Sycamore.
“It’s been a robust discussion and dialog with property owners and stakeholders,” O’Dowd said. “The Illinois Commerce Commission establishes a docketed process once the proposal has been filed, which invites others to comment and provide further input.”
Tom Weiland of Elgin said he hoped it does not impact too many people’s houses.
“You got to upgrade the infrastructure, you got to maintain the backbone or we’re going to be in trouble,” Weiland said. “I think it’s a reasonable step.”
Roberg Schless and Morgan McDonnell, both of Wayne, estimated they were about a mile away from the proposed power lines.
“I think they’re doing a good job of showing us where it’s going to be,” Schless said. “We’re almost a mile away, I don’t think it’s going to affect us.”
Mark Affelt of Burlington Township near Maple Park said the proposed route is too close and he would file an objection.
“It’s less than quarter of a mile from my house,” Affelt said. “I don’t know what the output of the high voltage will be to my children and the family and my neighbors. ... It’s not anything that I would want to look at for a number of years.”
Wayne village trustee Rich Ruminski said he was looking at the proposal and bring it back to the full board for consideration.
“It’s going to have minimal impact,” Ruminski said. “Wayne is a community that is very wide open and they want to preserve that rural environment. ... Based on what I’m seeing, I don’t see a lot that we could object to.”
But Bill Gibson of Plato Center said he would file an objection.
“It’s going right by my house,” Gibson said. “It’s going to be ugly. My property values are going to go down and I’m worried about catching cancer from the thing. Other than that, it seems like a great idea.”