Mayor On Thursday Outages: 'Enough is Enough'

Residents suffer power loss during mayor's meeting with ComEd.

On Thursday, while city staff and I were meeting with  to hear a preview of their plan to , I received numerous texts from neighbors and friends that their power was out, , on a clear sunny day.

Our business district lost power for the second straight day. Schools had their days cut short and standardized testing interrupted for two days in a row. Our . Following 1,600 losing power yesterday, another 2,500 people Thursday had that powerless feeling of "here we go." 

Why was our power out, again? There were no real answers coming from ComEd about why equipment was failing today and what they were doing to prevent it in the future.

In the course of our meeting with ComEd, the following statistic was shared: so far in 2011, 43 percent of Highland Park customers have lost power unrelated to storm activity. Our Franchise Agreement with ComEd provides for reliable power under the existing rate structure. We are required to pay our bills, yet they aren't keeping up their end of the deal.     

On September 12 at 7:30 p.m., ComEd is returning to City Council Chambers to share with the public their proposed plan. In today's preview of that plan, they discussed some equipment upgrades and tree trimming in certain areas experiencing chronic outages. Though appreciated, this seems to be a band-aid on a bigger problem. 

Here's what is missing from the plan: 

  1. No substantial or definitive commitment to increase infrastructure investment system-wide to enhance reliability. 
  2. No clear plan to .   
  3. No response to the smaller circuit customers who are always restored last and regularly endure extended outages.
  4. No plans to ensure that traffic signals on the highway and major roads won't go out as they did again on this sunny day. 

The results of  are undue economic burdens and very real risks to public safety and public health. 

Stop by City Hall at 7:30 p.m. on September 12 to hear  proposed action plan. Tell them why their plan is insufficient because right now, they aren't addressing most of the problems we identified two months ago.   

If ComEd can't provide better solutions, we'll need to consider other actions to enforce our contract.  

Enough is enough.

Mayor, City of Highland Park

Paul Smith September 02, 2011 at 02:35 PM
The Tribune this morning says this outage does not appear to be Com Ed's fault: "[Highland Park] city officials say ComEd's equipment may not be at fault in either case. Construction workers and private contractors likely caused the outages for about 3,000 customers in two days, officials said."
Nancy Rotering September 03, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Actually, only one of the four power outages yesterday was caused by a private contractor. Three others were wholly ComEd matters, as were the two today and the one on Wednesday, to the point that 14 ComEd field staff were sent out today to assess all of the feeders. As I am writing this, I just received a call about another outage from a couple in their 80s, sitting in the dark and the heat, one recently post-heart surgery. No excuses.


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