Commonwealth Ed Complaints in McHenry County

A Com Ed truck supports linemen maknig repairs in Crystal Lake.

A letter dated Wednesday, August 3, 2011, to the Crystal Lake City Council from Paul Greenlee, who lives on Bennington Drive, expresses concerns Commonwealth Edison service failures in his neighborhood:

Mayor Shepley and Members of the City Council:

When I arrived home from work yesterday, I found our home had lost power.

Based on the time my family left home for back to school shopping and my return, the power had been off some time between 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

So apparently there had been a power failure on a very hot and uncomfortable day before peak power usage had been reached.

A similar incident occurred on Saturday, July 30, sometime between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Com Ed line in McHenry County with a problem.

It was another instance in which on another almost painful weather day there was a power failure.

This time it occurred on a weekend day which is not a peak power usage day. I am again grateful we weren’t home for the inconvenience as well.

I don’t want to complain about something that is an inconvenience, as people often gripe about minor issues.

However, for what we pay in utility costs and taxes, reliable power supplies should not be an issue especially in less than peak usage periods.

Com Ed dispatched a number of trucks to repair this fallen tree problem on Lake Avenue near the Crystal Lake-Lakewood line.

Were these issues that came from brown-outs, planned or otherwise?

If they were, I don’t think the residents of our area got that memo.

Crystal Lake and McHenry County were especially devastated during the storms of early and mid-July.

Commonwealth Edison, in my opinion, took their sweet time in making repairs (even realizing the enormity of the situation, they were slow in responding and their communication was horrific and only added to the frustration suffered by many).

With subsequent power failures even after those repairs from the big storm, apparently the repairs were not of a quality nature.

That sets the stage for unnecessary future problems.

And Com Ed has NEVER been a very forthcoming utility when it comes to providing information.

A Com Ed lineman fixes a problem on Lake Avenue in Lakewood.

I urge you to haul Com Ed representatives before the City Council and hold them accountable for the poor service.

It’s not just a matter of frustration from the big storm, although their poor communication should be addressed so they don’t fail the public again.

It is the apparent ongoing occurrences of power failures that should be acted upon now so there isn’t a greater consequence to an individual or a community later.

Personally, I think they should have to face the public in an open forum.

However, I trust that if you and the members of the Council compel Com Ed (and not just some P.R. flak) to appear and address these issues, we might well see a change in their behavior.

I don’t like to use utilities or big business as scapegoats for any problem.

I work in property and casualty insurance, an industry often vilified and sometimes even correctly.

Utilities, just like elected officials and public employees, have a responsibility to deliver services and be accountable for their actions and their failures in fulfilling their obligations.

I hope you address this issue in a way to protect the community in the future.

Paul Greenlee

Maybe this other email from a reader explains more than Com Ed would like people to know. The author is an engineer:

A high power line on Main Street next to Best Buy broke for no apparent reason last year.

The essence of the explanation of the lead person (my presumption) was that CoEd found it less expensive to repair problem equipment rather than replacing it.

Of course, this is understandable from a surface analysis but is only viable when you have a captive customer base.

The cost to the customer is very difficult to determine but reasoning of that type would be unacceptable in a competitive market.

Obviously, many of the customers would switch to a competitive service.

My question to the service person was initiated because we had an excessive number of outages in comparison to another group of houses on our street. They would have service and our group would be in the dark.

Articles of potential interest:

No tree fell on this high power line on Crystal Lake's Main Street next to Best Buy a year ago.

Com Ed’s Infrastructure and the Last Com Ed Scam” (The rate hike bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly this year and the deregulation bill of the late 1990’s)

Fire and Brimstone” (August, 2010, high power line failure next to Best Buy in Crystal Lake.)

McCullom Lake Is Last in Com Ed Reliability” (list of all towns in McHenry County in descending order of the quality of Com Ed service, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.)


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