IL - 24,000 in Oak Park Area Lose Power--COMED Cites Electrical Switch Failure : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah and Mickey Ciokajlo Tribune Staff Writers June 9, 2000

A power outage in the near western suburbs left about 24,000 Commonwealth Edison customers in the dark for nearly two hours Thursday evening.

The blackout began at 6:42 p.m. when a failure occurred in a switch controlling the flow of electricity into a transmission distribution center in Oak Park, said ComEd spokeswoman Mollie West. Power was restored to all customers at 9:05 p.m., West said.

Customers were blacked out in portions of Oak Park, Berwyn, River Forest, River Grove and Leyden Township, including Oak Park Hospital. Thanks to a backup generator, the problem was limited to dimmed lights, said hospital nursing supervisor Laura Coffelt.

"The radiology, CT-scans, ventilators, everything worked," she said. ComEd restored power to the hospital at 8:30 p.m.

. West said heat was not a factor in the switch failure.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures at O'Hare Airport reached 89 degrees Thursday and at Midway Airport they peaked at 90.

"It wasn't heat-related," she insisted.

ComEd, still reeling from last year's widespread outages and bad publicity, is pumping $680 million into its aging system to replace bad cables and upgrade substations.

Several ComEd executives, including Paul McCoy, a senior vice president, were fired in the wake of last year's problems.

Earlier this year, ComEd officials pledged to keep all 10 of the utility's power plants up and running through the summer, a goal that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. But the promises of better service and an explanation of what went wrong Thursday didn't buy much good will in Oak Park.

"We're always kind of prepared, thanks to Commonwealth Edison," said Hector Haggar, one of the owners of the La Majada restaurant at 226 Harrison St. ,who had a stock of candles when the power went out.

Haggar was preparing for a big crowd because it was graduation night at Oak Park-River Forest High School. "Some people took it like fun, a candlelight dinner."Even though ComEd said the outage was not heat-related, customers weren't forgiving

Joseph Donovan, 52, of Oak Park, was at the restaurant with his family when the outage occurred. "The service is really poor" he said of the utility. "This stuff should not happen. What, it goes over 90 degrees and the power goes out? It's their business.",2669,SAV-0006090357,FF.html


-- (, June 09, 2000

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