The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved ComEd’s proposal for Phase III of the Northwest Reliability Project. The estimated $40 million transmission-line and substation project will significantly increase capacity and maintain reliability for fast-growing Illinois suburbs such as Gilberts, Algonquin and Huntley.

Phase III is the final phase of the Northwest Reliability Project, which began in 1994 to increase capacity and reliability in the area. Local demand in the area for electricity has been growing in the 6 percent range per year – or triple the average annual growth in the ComEd service area.

ComEd conducted a comprehensive 15-month study and public input process to develop a proposal that minimizes public impact while meeting the area’s economic development needs. The project will feature a new substation along Interstate 90 near Sandwald Road and about 12 mi of new 138-kV, double circuit transmission lines – of which more than half will follow an existing right of way on the south side of Interstate 90.

“ComEd’s overriding mission is to keep the lights on for our customers, and the ICC’s ruling allows us to meet quickly growing electrical needs in southeast McHenry County and northwest Kane County,” said ComEd President and Chief Operating Officer J. Barry Mitchell. “We appreciate all the input provided by local residents, municipal officials and other area stakeholders.”

Once completed, the project will deliver 67 MW of new capacity to the area. (One megawatt is equal to the equivalent needed to serve 225 average-sized homes.)
Construction is already underway on the substation, and work will begin next month on the I-90 portion of the transmission line. These are expected to be in operation by the summer of 2009.

The new transmission line along I-90 will run west from the Gilberts substation near Randall Road to the new Sandwald Road substation. The second part of the new transmission line will turn north from I-90 about a mile east of Route 47 and follow property lines north to Kreutzer Road. It then travels east 2 mi to connect with an existing transmission line feeding the Algonquin substation. M. J. Electric, LLC, Iron Mountain, MI, will be the line contractor on the transmission line and Aldridge Electric, Libertyville, IL will provide concrete foundations for the steel poles.

“From a reliability standpoint, this second section of the transmission line north of I-90 is critical. By connecting with the Algonquin substation, this will allow four different substations to be served by high-capacity transmission lines from two directions. Consequently if a part of the transmission line is severely damaged, the substations can still be fed from another direction, thereby reducing the likelihood of a major extended outage,” Mitchell said.

During the Northwest Reliability Project’s first two phases, ComEd constructed a new substation and transmission line north of Huntley in 1999, and extended the transmission line to a new substation near Algonquin in 2001.