ComEd unveils preferred routes for Grand Prairie Gateway project in Illinois

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) on Oct. 8 debuted its choice of routes for the proposed Grand Prairie Gateway project, unveiling its proposed primary and alternate routes for the line across northern Illinois at a public open house in Rochelle, Ill.

Both routes for the planned 345-kV project, which the utility has said would primarily cross agricultural land, run largely parallel to each other between the Byron substation south of Byron, Ill., in Ogle County at the west end of the project, though Dekalb County and Kane County before terminating at the Wayne substation north of Wayne, Ill., in Dupage County at the east end of the project.

The routes were developed “through an integrated process incorporating input from the public and other community stakeholders,” ComEd said on its project website.

The proposed primary route heads approximately due east from the Bryon substation, on a path parallel to and approximately three miles south of state Highway 72, until it passes north of Lindenwood, Ill., where it jogs slightly southeast before turning virtually straight east and continuing to the city of Burlington. As it nears the city’s western limit, the route turns south for approximately 1.5 miles, then turns east and continues to a point where in follows Canadian National railroad tracks past the South Elgin substation and continues to the Wayne substation.

The proposed alternate route heads north for approximately one mile as it leaves the Bryon substations before it turns east and runs parallel to, and approximately one mile south of, Highway 72 until it reaches Interstate 39 north of Lindenwood. Jogging south for approximately 0.5 miles, it then resumes its easterly direction until it passes the town of Kirkland. From there, it turns south and crosses the path of the proposed primary route before again turning east and continuing to the outskirts of Burlington.

From there, the alternate route turns south and continues until it is south of Burlington Township, where it continues in an easterly direction. Approximately six miles east of Burlington Township, the alternate route turns north and joins the primary route alignment to follow train tracks past the South Elgin substation and continues to the Wayne substation.

Although right-of-way (ROW) width needed for the project could be as wide as 220 feet, ComEd said the proposed routes are not intended to represent a precise, surveyed width, nor are they intended to represent the precise center line of the transmission facilities as those determinations will be made once surveying and design engineering is complete. Like similar projects of this nature at this stage in the process, they are intended only to represent the approximate location of the new transmission line relative to other existing physical features such as roads, railroads and property lines.

“While these routes will be subject to continued refinement, including any changes based upon information that we obtain from stakeholders and the public, ComEd does not anticipate material modifications based upon currently available information,” the utility said on its project website.

ComEd plans to build the 57-mile transmission project as “the best solution for addressing current system congestion and ensuring the continued efficient flow of electricity across northern Illinois,” it said previously. The project will be the third west-east line to cross ComEd’s service territory.

PJM Interconnection selected the Grand Prairie Gateway Project as the best solution for addressing current system congestion and ensuring the continued efficient flow of electricity across northern Illinois, ComEd said. PJM also identified the line as a solution for resolving auction revenue rights (ARR) infeasibility constraints in ComEd’s zone. ARRs are the mechanism by which proceeds from the annual financial transmission rights auction are allocated.

The project also alleviates constraints on market-to-market flowgates near the boundary with the Midcontinent ISO, PJM said.

The project is estimated to cost $109.6m, according to PJM’s 2012 regional transmission expansion plan.

Following the conclusion of the public proceedings, the project must be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), which will also approve the project’s final route.

The company expects to file an application for approval of the project with the ICC before the end of 2013, after which the commission will have up to 225 days to announce its decision. If approved, the project is planned to enter service in June 2017.

ComEd is a subsidiary of Exelon (NYSE:EXC).