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DeKalb County residents get look at proposed Grand Prairie transmission line routes

Published: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 10:08 a.m. CDT

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SYCAMORE — Joan Hoyt came out of ComEd's latest open house on a new electric transmission line happy.

Like more than a dozen DeKalb County residents who attended Thursday night's meeting at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau in Sycamore, Hoyt wanted to know how close the power line was to her property on Old State Road in the Mayfield Township.

ComEd's new transmission line will travel from substations in Byron to Wayne and pass through DeKalb County along the way.

Hoyt found out the proposed primary and alternate routes for the transmission line would be about three miles and a mile from her home in each case.

"It's just another thing to look at that isn't pretty," Hoyt said.

County residents who came to Thursday's open house were able to see a public display of the proposed primary and alternate routes for the line, which is part of the company's Grand Prairie Gateway Project.

The line, will be 57 to 60 miles in length, will carry 345,000 volts and be supported by about 400 single-pole steel structures.

ComEd spokesperson David O'Dowd said the estimated cost of the project was $200 million. A mix of ComEd crews and contractors would build the steel structures.

PJM Interconnection, an independent regional transmission grid operator, found the transmission line was necessary to reduce congestion in the northern Illinois electric transmission system. Transmission lines become congested after receiving too much power, which can lead to higher costs of delivering electricity.

With the primary and alternate routes nailed down, ComEd will tweak them based on public input from the latest round of open houses before submitting them to the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval by the end of the year. The commission will then have 225 days to approve one of the routes or a combination of the two.

Gathering public input on the potential routes for the transmission line was one way the company determined the proposed routes, O'Dowd said. ComEd has engaged property owners and residents in each of the four counties the line would pass through with stakeholder meetings and open houses.

"These open houses have been a very productive dialogue and that is what they are designed to do," he said.

Potential routes were planned to pass through one of four corridors in Sycamore and Genoa Townships, said Paul Callighan, ComEd spokesperson. After public input, ComEd settled on two corridors for their primary and alternate routes when they learned routes for the other two would pass through planned housing and commercial development in the area.

"We're trying to minimize the impact so people can continue to work and farm," he said.

ComEd officials also determined the routes through engineering and environmental studies. In each case, they would do land surveys to see what kind of terrain the line would pass through and make sure endangered species were not threatened.

Callighan said many of the residents who came to Thursday's meeting wanted to find their homes on the map. Sycamore resident Mark Brown was able to find out the transmission line would be 1/2 mile from his home on Plank Road. His concern was the line affecting property values.

"If it was going to be near my property, I would be discouraged," he said.

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