When the northern Chicago suburb of Northbrook suffered power outages for days this summer as the result of severe storms, Village President Sandra Frum called out Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd), Illinois’ largest public utility, for failing to offer a speedy response. Months later, the utility has promised it will begin two electricity reliability projects in Northbrook that will solve many of the issues that led to the outages.
At a Nov. 29 meeting with the village’s board of trustees, Eric Duray, ComEd external affairs manager, told board members that the utility would install more resilient power lines and reconfigure switches in downtown Northbrook. The new power lines would be grouped in a tighter formation compared to traditional power lines and would be covered, which would make them much more resistant to power outages caused by falling tree branches, a significant problem during the summer outages. The reconfigured switches will help ComEd quickly and remotely replace one power source with another when an outage occurs.
ComEd will also trim trees in the Ancient Tree subdivision of Northbrook, where falling trees during the summer storms caused total power outages, and will switch some customers to a more reliable type of transformer.
Duray estimated that the electric utility would spend between $2 to $2.5 million on the improvements, compared to between $500,000 and $1 million in average annual maintenance in Northbrook.
According to Duray, the installation of the new power lines and tree trimming in the Ancient Tree subdivision should be completed by March, while the circuits in downtown Northbrook will be reconfigured by May.
“ComEd Promises $2 Million in Improvements For Northbrook,” Northbrook Patch, Nov. 30, 2011.