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Long ComEd franchise renewal shorts out

Plans to give Commonwealth Edison a five year extension of its franchise to provide electric utility service in Evanston were short circuited by an alderman Monday night.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, noting the power outages at the YMCA and elsewhere in town over the July 4th weekend, said she believed city negotiators were too timid in working with the utility on the extension and said she favored a three year renewal — the same term as the existing contract.

No other aldermen spoke up to back Rainey’s view — but because the contract was scheduled to expire tomorrow — it needed unanimous consent to be given immediate effect.

Lacking that, Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, proposed a stop-gap, two-month extension to give aldermen more time to debate the issue, and the City Council voted unanimously to adopt that.

Earlier in the meeting, Joel Freeman, chair of the city’s Energy Commission, said the group favored the five year extension because ComEd has made progress in improving its service reliability and now has a collaborative working relationship with the city.

He said he also believes that changes in the electric utility industry appear to be slowing from their pace of recent years, making a longer contract term more appropriate.

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