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ComEd: We will try to stop outages
But Cornerstone Lakes residents skeptical plan will work
By Jack Komperda | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/26/2007 12:17 AM

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Three ComEd managers fielded dozens of questions Tuesday from homeowners of West Chicago's Cornerstone Lakes subdivision about how they would stop a rash of power outages from recurring in their neighborhood.

ComEd has documented 13 power outages lasting at least one minute within the subdivision in the last two years, a number many of the nearly 100 residents who attended a forum at Norton Creek School repeatedly pointed out was unacceptable.

"I'm at the point that if my basement floods again, I'm just going to mail my keys to my mortgage lender," John Piaskowy told the audience of ComEd representatives and West Chicago city officials. The eight-year Cornerstone resident said he's suffered roughly $30,000 in damages from flooding related to the power losses. "How far do I have to go not to have to worry about this problem?" he asked.

Sylvia Rogowski and John Pruitt, two of the ComEd managers, detailed a plan they said would hopefully stem the number of outages. ComEd would switch the circuit providing power to the neighborhood from one located in neighboring Wayne to a closer circuit in West Chicago.

By next spring, the company planned to work aggressively with area municipalities to keep trees surrounding power lines trimmed. Rogowski and Pruitt both said many of the documented outages at Cornerstone resulted from tree limbs coming in contact with power lines.

And the company planned to supplement power to the West Chicago circuit with another neighboring feeder circuit.

Many residents in the audience were skeptical of the proposed plan.

"I think it's a Band-Aid approach," said Cathy Cochefski, a Cornerstone homeowner who said she's had to rebuild her basement twice in the last year because of the outages. "I don't want to have to lose a third basement."

Arthur Barsema, a ComEd regional director, repeatedly pleaded with the audience for time to let the company try the plan and monitor its effectiveness.

When pressed by residents, Barsema said he could not guarantee the proposal would prevent future outages in the subdivision.

"How that's going to play out," Barsema said. "That's something we're going to have to work through."