Category: Energy

Maywood to Make Energy Efficient Upgrades to 670 Street Lights

ComEd workerWednesday, March 8, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Soon, Maywood residents will be seeing differently in the dark.

During a March 7 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously approved a contact with two companies, H & H Electric and Twin Supplies, LTD, that will result in the replacement of 670 lighting fixtures — 470 cobra head and 200 post top lighting fixtures — throughout Maywood with newer, energy efficient, LED technology technology.

The total cost of the project amounts to $373,035, with 75 percent of that total covered by incentive rebates the village will obtain through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The village will pay for the remaining 25 percent.

According to the contract, Maywood will also contribute the traffic control, signage and security during the installation process.

The new lighting fixtures, which will be installed by May, will be retrofitted with technology that allows them to come on as soon as it gets dark, as opposed to running on a timer, said Maywood Public Works Director John West during a March 1 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting.

West said the new lighting fixtures will go up along non-IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation] streets.

“So anything except for First Ave., Roosevelt Rd., Chicago Ave. and a small part of 19th Ave.,” West said, adding that the new fixtures will provide the same luminosity for less money.

This is the just the latest upgrade to Maywood’s energy grid. Last April, ComEd officials installed energy efficient, smart-ready LED lighting on more than 380 ComEd-owned streetlights throughout Maywood.

The village was one of 50 municipalities in the state to receive the technology upgrade, which was provided through ComEd’s Smart Ideas Energy Efficiency Program.  VFP

Photo above: A ComEd worker installing an LED light fixture last April. | Photo submitted

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Chronicle: ComEd Ready For Long, Hot Summer | Fred Hampton Pool Opens June 13

Kids Have Fun At Fred Hampton Pool

Children jump into the pool at the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center, 300 N. Fred Hampton Way (Oak St.), Maywood. This summer is expected to unusually warm, but not too hot that it can’t be handled by ComEd, company officials said. 

Friday, June 3, 2016 || Originally Published: Cook County Chronicle | 6/1/16 || By Kevin Beese

Feel free to set that air conditioner a degree or two colder to cool off this summer. If your wallet can take it, so can the electricity grid.

Both ComEd and the regional transmission organization that provides it with additional power when needed, say they foresee no problems with meeting summer electricity demand. Even with a forecast of warmer-than-normal summer temperatures, ComEd and PJM Interconnection, its RTO provider, say they have ample extra power to draw from when needed.

The expected warmer-than-normal temperatures could cause volatile weather that increases power outages, but ComEd says it can handle that as well. ComEd is conducting 63 emergency preparedness operational exercises in 2016, a 16 percent increase in drills from last year.

“We want to make sure we are ready,” Terence R. Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ComEd, said last week during an Illinois Commerce Commission Electric Policy Session on Summer Preparedness.

He said it is estimated that nearly 1 million people were spared power interruptions due to equipment improvements ComEd made during 2015.

ComEd continues to work to take safety precautions for workers and the public, Donnelly said.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority for our workers and the people who rely on us for service,” Donnelly said. “We are not just one of the safest electricity providers. We are one of America’s safest companies.”

Donnelly said the electricity company has made 300 improvements to its storm response effort – everything from providing faster texts and social media posts about outages to sending Community Care crews with phone chargers and water to areas hit with extended outages.

He said an increased social media presence is important for the company and customers.

“People want to know what is happening,” Donnelly said.

He added that more than 150,000 customers have signed up for the Peak Time Savings Program, cutting their electricity use during peak hours. That tripling of customers in the program frees up available kilowatts during high-demand times, Donnelly noted.

ComEd officials think the peak load for electricity could hit an all-time high this summer. The “worst-case” expected peak load for this summer is 24,083 megawatts. ComEd’s all-time system peak was 23,753 megawatts in 2011. ComEd reps said that even hitting the worst-case scenario point this summer would only have the power company at the 90th percentile and not overtaxing its systems.

Michelle Blaise, senior vice president of technical services for ComEd, said part of improving information-sharing with customers is getting better information from the company’s front-line personnel.

“We have made investments to improve accountability estimates and improve our response at the scene of outages,” Blaise said.

Blaise said that improved communication efforts have led to more than 300,000 customers subscribing to outage alert text messages.

“We are ready to meet the 2016 forecast (power) loads,” Blaise said.

PJM Interconnection, which serves as a regional transmission organization in 13 states, including Illinois where it provides back-up support for ComEd, expects to be able to handle any surge in electricity needs for the region.

Richard Mathias, senior consultant for PJM and former chairman of the ICC, noted what a huge electricity provider ComEd is. He noted that ComEd averages using 20-25 megawatts of power while PJM’s entire 13-state area uses 165 megawatts of electricity.

Mathias said that natural gas has increasingly been used in the creation of electricity, going from 5 percent of PJM’s electricity in 2005 to 20 percent in 2015.

Coal has done the opposite becoming less of source of electricity during the last 10 years and almost non-existent in the future, Mathias said.

Mathias said the biggest users of electricity have also changed over the years.

“We don’t have the steel mills anyone, but now we have data centers and they have a huge need for electricity,” Mathias said.

John Rosales, a commissioner of the ICC, noted that Illinois utilities have made efforts “to modernize and strengthen the grid … intended to improve system reliability, thereby helping Illinois customers experience less outages, and improving power restoration.” VFP

Fred Hampton Pool Opens June 13

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ComEd To Install Nearly 400 Energy Efficient Streetlights In Maywood

ComEd worker.pngTuesday, April 19, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

ComEd officials will install energy efficient, smart-ready LED lighting on more than 380 ComEd-owned streetlights throughout Maywood, the company announced on Tuesday afternoon.

On April 19, Fidel Marquez, a ComEd senior vice president, met with top village officials, including Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, to help launch the installation.

Maywood is one of 50 municipalities in the state to receive the technology upgrade, which was provided through ComEd’s Smart Ideas Energy Efficiency Program. In all, the company plans to upgrade nearly 18,000 of their streetlights with the energy efficient technology.

“Our smart grid investments are laying the foundation for innovation that is helping enhance the everyday lives of our customers and communities,” Val Jensen, ComEd’s senior vice president of customer operations, said in an April 19 press release.

“Installing smart-ready streetlights is the first step in expanding smart city innovations that provide cleaner options, greater operational efficiency and strengthen safety and security for our communities. ComEd photo op.jpg

“Maywood is pleased to be among the first municipalities to participate in ComEd’s smart-ready streetlight program,” Perkins said in a statement. “These energy efficient light fixtures will enhance illumination along our streets, improving public safety and visibility.” VFP

Top photo: A ComEd worker installs an LED light in Maywood on April 19. || Right: ComEd Senior Vice President Fidel Marquez with Trustee Michael Rogers, Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Village Manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., and Police Chief Valdimir Talley | Photos courtesy ComEd. 

P A I D  A D V E R T I S I N G

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J O I N  T H E  F U N  A P R I L  23rd

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ComEd Offering Rebates For Homeowners Who Install New Thermostats

Installing meter image

Friday, October 16, 2015 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR 

A  new rebate program, offered by ComEd, Peoples Gas, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and the Environmental Law and Policy Center, allows homeowners the opportunity to reduce their heating and cooling bills by installing a new Wi-Fi enabled thermostat in their homes between October 2015 and May 2016.

Applicants must be “a ComEd residential delivery service customer to participate. This application is for heating and cooling equipment installed between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016. The application must be submitted within 90 days of installation or by June 30, 2016, whichever comes first,” according to ComEd’s Energy Efficiency Program’s website.

“After your rebate application is reviewed and approved, you will receive your rebate check in approximately six weeks.”

For more information on the program, or to apply, click here. VFP

In the Giving Spirit, ComEd to Pay Up to $1,500 for Senior Citizens’ Electric Bills; Maywood Vehicle Stickers Now on Sale

ComEd Cares

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR 

ComEd Gives the Gift of Energy

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–This holiday season, ComEd is giving the gift of energy by dedicating more than $300,000 through a special “Senior Giving” hardship fund created to help senior citizens who have fallen behind on paying their electric bill. Now through Dec. 25, or while funds are available, ComEd will pay up to $1,500 towards eligible customer’s past due balance.

The “Senior Giving” hardship fund is part of ComEd’s CARE program, which offers a range of financial assistance to help qualifying customers pay their electric bills.

“We understand customers sometimes struggle to make ends meet and we want to do all we can to help, especially during the holiday season,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customer Operations, ComEd. “By providing this special financial assistance fund, we are able to help customers who are experiencing a hardship, such as a recent illness or job loss, but may not qualify for other federal or state-sponsored assistance programs.”

To qualify for the “Senior Giving” hardship fund, customers must be over the age of 60 with a past due balance, have not received a Residential Special hardship within the last two years, have no unpaid tampering charges, and are not on a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP).

Customers can apply by visiting their local LIHEAP office and providing their driver’s license or state ID for proof of age, social security card and a recent ComEd bill showing the past due balance. The name on the bill must be listed on the account as the primary or secondary customer. For a list of local LIHEAP Agencies, customers can visit ComEd.com/CARE or call 877-411-9276.

The company also offers gift certificates that can be used to help a friend or family member pay their electric bill. Gift certificates can be purchased in denominations of $10, $25, $50 and $100 online at ComEd.com/CARE, by phone at (888) 784-5262 weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or by visiting one of ComEd’s participating, retail bank locations. For a complete list of retail bank locations, visit ComEd.com/CARE.

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Vehicle Stickers on Sale: Call (708) 450-6321

Maywood vehicle stickers went on sale December 1, 2014. Residents have until January 1, 2015 to purchase the stickers, which residents are required to affix to the lower right passenger side of their windshield by January 16th. Failure to properly display a current sticker is subject to a fine. Fees for the stickers are as follows:

Annual License Fees

Vehicle stickers must be affixed to the lower right passenger side of the windshield by January 16th. Failure to properly display a current sticker is subject to a fine.

All Motor Vehicles $30.00
Recreational Vehicles $30.00
Motor-driven cycles, tricycles, scooters and mopeds $25.00
Dealers Plates $25.00
School and Church Busses $25.00
Senior $15.00
Disabled $17.50

Trucks:  (Based on Gross)

3,000 lbs or less $25.00
3,001 to 8,000 lbs $30.00
8,001 to 10,000 lbs $35.00
10,001 to 12,000 lbs $40.00
12,001 to 14,000 lbs $45.00
14,001 to 16,000 lbs $50.00
16,001 to 20,000 lbs $55.00
20,001 lbs and over $60.00

Late Fees

January 17 – 31 Add $15.00
February 1 and Thereafter Add $30.00

Special Note – Citizens 65 years of age and older may obtain ONE motor vehicle license each year for ½ basic.

 For more information on late fees and fines, click here. VFP

Proviso Property Owners Can Appeal Tax Assessments Starting Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23; Heating Bills Could Be Lower This Winter

Money HouseWednesday, October 22, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

Cook County Board of Review appeal deadlines for Proviso Township nearing 

Property owners in Proviso Township seeking to appeal the assessed value of their properties with the Board of Review can begin the process beginning tomorrow, Thursday, October 23, 2014. The deadline for filing appeals is Friday, November 21, 2014.

According to the Citizens’ Guide to Appealing Property Tax Assessments, prepared by 10th District Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, property owners can appeal the assessed value of their properties for a number of reasons, including:

  • “The assessed value of the property is not in line with other similar properties in your neighborhood.”
  • “The proposed assessed value of your property is higher than its actual price.”
  • “There is an error in the description of your property that adversely effects [sic] the proposed assessed valuation of your property.”
  • “Your property has been damaged by fire, flood or casualty and/or part or all of the building has been demolished.”
  • “You may have other grounds to appeal that are specific to your property.”

“A Cook County Board of Review Property Tax Appeal is the last opportunity to appeal your property taxes at the county level.  It is also a necessary step to seek relief from the Circuit Court of Cook County or the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB),” according to attorney Antonio Senagore of Fisk Kart Katz Regan & Levy.

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Operation Uplift

Your Nicor heating bill could be lower this winter (if the hawk cooperates)

Nicor, the largest gas utility in the state which delivers gas to over 2 million customers in the northern third of Illinois, has projected that heating bills in its service area could be lower this winter due to higher temperatures in the utility’s forecast, according to a Crain’s Chicago Business report published yesterday.

Both Nicor and Peoples, another major gas utility, anticipate “normal winter weather, effectively an average of season-long natural gas consumption over the past 12 seasons,” unlike last year’s polar vortex frigidity.

“If temperatures in the upcoming winter are ‘normal’ — meaning, not ridiculously cold — Chicagoans will see a 16 percent decrease in their home heating costs, according to Peoples Gas,” writes Crain‘s. “Likewise, Nicor Gas, the largest gas utility in the state, serving 2.2 million customers in 656 Chicago suburbs, projects that heating bills will be as much as 15 percent lower than last winter.”

However, either, or both, utility’s forecasts could be off the mark, as was the case last year, when “Peoples forecast  that the average household would spend $800 for heating from November through March. The actual tally ended up 36 percent higher, due to much higher usage and also to higher-than-expected natural gas prices as supplies became constrained.”

Whatever the case, what seems to be more certain is that Nicor customers will pay less than Peoples’.

“In most of the suburbs, Nicor’s gas cost is projected to be cheaper than Peoples’. Nicor expects gas costs for the five-month heating season to be nearly 47 cents per therm, down from 49 cents the year before,” Crain‘s reports. VFP

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Cook Recorder II

Maywood Residents Drowning In Estimated Water Bills

rubinetto banconote dollari

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 || By Michael Romain || UPDATED: Thursday, October 2, 2014, 5:00 PM

Senior homeowners are getting $600, $800 and $1,400 water bills; much of the confusion due to lack of knowledge, says Mayor

MAYWOOD — Ella Robinson, a Maywood resident who has lived in her house for more than 40 years, quietly approached the podium during the public comments section of a Wednesday, September 24, Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting to complain about her water bill.

“Recently I reported to the water department that they had been estimating my bills,” she said. “They sent out a person and he said that the device wasn’t working on the side of the house. He put a new one inside my home and when I got my bill, it was over $1,400. I came back and [someone in the Village’s finance department] took off $400. They say it had been estimated for 13 months. Nobody in Village’s office knew that they’re estimating our bills? Why did they wait so long — estimating me for over a year?”

Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who put the issue on that night’s LLOC agenda, said that she has recently been approached by residents, most of them senior citizens, claiming that they’ve received outlandishly estimated bills, some of which date back a year, for varying amounts — $600, $800 and $1,400 were three that the Mayor named.

The Village may employ estimates to calculate a homeowner’s water bill when the meter isn’t functioning properly. When this happens, residents who receive estimated bills can easily verify the estimate by comparing it to their own reading of the meter.

However, Mayor Perkins noted that most senior citizens who have complained to her about their estimated bills don’t know to do this and when they go to Village Hall to pay the bills, the cashiers don’t tell them that they should.

“Anytime you get an estimated bill, or an E-Bill, you should question it,” the Mayor said. “Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware that they have the right to read their own meters and turn in their own numbers. They just believe what the Village says and when they get estimated bills, they just go and pay them, and the Village employees haven’t been trained to be proactive. Here Ms. Robinson’s been getting her E-Bill for a year and no employee questioned it? When you see a resident with an E-Bill for even two months, you should question it. Tell them what they need to do!”

Maywood’s finance director, Lanya Satchell, said that her department, which is responsible for overseeing water bill collections, affords residents a maximum 20 percent discount on estimated bills, as was the case with Ella Robinson when she got $400 shaved off of her bill.

“If that exceeds 20 percent down-payable [then] I’m able to clear up the two which I offer right off the bat,” she said. On the finance department’s webpage, residents are directed to call the Village if they’ve received an estimated bill.

“If you receive an estimated bill please call the Water Department at: (708) 450-6324; 450-6323 or 450-6313,” the page reads. “If you receive a water bill that is higher than usual, you may call our office at 708-450-6300 to schedule an appointment for a water technician to come to your residence to inspect the metering equipment – you may also need to have your home inspected by a professional plumber to make sure there are no leaks.”

Satchell said that there are a host of reasons why employees may not be as proactive in making residents aware about the measures they can take to correct estimated bills.

“In order to be proactive, you have to have the staff available,” she said, noting that there’s been a shortage in manpower both in her department, which is responsible for collections, and in public works, which is responsible for reading and maintaining the meters. She also said that sometimes, cashiers may not see the whole bill; they may only see the stub portion.

“Ultimately, the homeowners have to be responsible for understanding their bills,” she said.

If residents still have issues with their bills that can’t be resolved through staff, they are referred to the Water Review Commission, who may recommend an appeal to the Board of Trustees. The Board has the power to grant a maximum adjustment to the bills of 50 percent. However, according to Satchell, the review body doesn’t have a quorum [at least four members are required to deliberate], so staff members haven’t been referring them to the Commission. The Commissioners must go through training before they can sit on the review body, Satchell said, “but they haven’t done that.”

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Some members of the Board of Trustees believe that the fact that the Commission isn’t functioning is the Mayor’s fault.

“One of the reasons we don’t have a Water Review Commission is because they were all asked to resign,” said Trustee Ron Rivers.

Last summer, at the beginning of her term, Mayor Perkins sent out a letter to all sitting commissioners requesting their resignation. The Mayor said the move was an attempt to clear a listing of every citizen who voluntarily serves on a committee or commission in Maywood. The beginning and/or end dates for some individuals’ term limits were missing and there were people listed on commissions and committees who had moved out of the community.

“So, in order to put the list back together […] I asked everyone to resign from their position and if they wanted to remain on the committee all they had to do was resubmit their information,” Mayor Perkins said at the time. She also noted that the resubmission form she used was the one used by former Mayor Henderson Yarbrough. The Mayor also said that a majority of the Board has routinely refused to vote in candidates of her choosing to boards such as the Water Review commission. No member of a committee or commission can be voted in unless a majority of the Board approves.

Trustee Audrey Jaycox, however, claimed that the Water Review Commission does have a quorum. The Village’s municipal code stipulates that members of committees and commissions whose terms have expired may nonetheless continue to sit on their respective commissions and committees until their replacements are appointed.

“According to my records here, we have two new members that we just appointed to the Water Review,” she said. “They were appointed June 18, 2014. And we have two members whose terms expire November 19, 2015. So we do have four members on that commission [required for a quorum], so…that commission should be up and running. I think that someone needs to contact those people and let them know that we’re having problems and they need to meet and address some of these issues.”

But this was almost a moot point at that night’s LLOC meeting, since most people complaining about the estimated bills may not even know that the Water Review Commission exists. Ms. Robinson is a case in point. When asked by Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross whether or not she knew what the Commission was, Ms. Robinson said no.

Another possible source of the present confusion over estimated water bills is the lack of automatic meter reading technology in some homes. Around 2005/06, according to Satchell, Maywood began utilizing the technology, which collects data about water consumption via equipment such as handheld wireless devices. This means that water meter readers no longer have to physically visit each meter to collect consumption information on which to base water bills, a method that’s supposed to be much more accurate than manual meter readings.

However, Satchell said that approximately one percent of Maywood homes have meters that aren’t amenable to the new technology and thus susceptible to less accurate readings and breakdowns that may lead to estimated bills. She said that those homes didn’t have meters adapted for the new technology because of challenges, such as non-functional shutoff valves, at the time the technology was being installed. Satchell also said that, even though the updated system is in place, it has not been properly maintained, since the Village doesn’t have the manpower. VFP

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