'Going Rogue': Olejniczak Blasts ComEd's 'Raccoon Power Surge' Theory
Village officials still trying to figure out chain of events that caused weekends power surge. Trustee Alex Olejniczak says he's logged 50-plus residents who lost electronic equipment and appliances in the surge.
Village officials are still trying to assess what caused the weekend’s mysterious power surge in Oak Lawn that Commonwealth Edison claims was caused by a raccoon getting into a power transformer behind Freshline Foods.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) said it appeared there were two events that occurred late Saturday evening, early Sunday morning, that caused the weekend's electricity tsunami.
The first incident occurred around midnight Sunday when there were reports of a power lines snapping at 91st Street and Cicero Avenue. Cicero was shut down for about an hour as Commonwealth Edison crews moved the downed wires out of the street.
Around 12:35 a.m. there were reports of wires down behind Freshline Foods at 5355 W. 95th St.
“Somewhere in the middle of these two occurrences there was a large amount of damage done to homes,” Oleniczak said at Tuesday's village board meeting. “I don’t know if it happened just in these two occurrences or when power came back on.”
Olejniczak added that both he and the village manager, Larry Deetjen, received an email from Commonwealth Edison on Tuesday afternoon. Patch had received the same email on Monday afternoon from ComEd officials saying that the power surge had been caused by wildlife contact or raccoon. The email also stated that ComEd was not liable for residents damages because the raccoon was an act of God and beyond ComEd’s control.
“I want to know the connection between a raccoon at 95th Street and 54th Avenue and the area of 91st Street and Cicero,” Olejniczak said.
At least 50 residents have come forward to say they lost computers, TVs, cable boxes and other appliances. Oak Lawn firefighters also received calls from residents reporting smoking surge protectors, electric outlets and light switches.
“If a raccoon truly did cause this big of a power surge than I’m very concerned for the summer because there are raccoons in every one of our neighborhoods,” Olejniczak said. “We have a serious issue if their system allows this type of surge to come through homes.”
On Wednesday morning, a Commonwealth Edison representative came to village hall to help residents fill out claim forms, although it is still unknown whether the utility company will honor those claims.
Olejniczak said it was wrong that Commonwealth Edison “controls the information and determination” of the cause of power outages.
“ComEd bullies people. They purposely don’t take blame for it,” he said. “They have not invested in their system to protect consumers. We have no other choice than to use ComEd. I believe it’s their responsibility when something like this happens that they make residents whole.”
“ComEd blames this furry creature for a power outage affecting 1,000 Oak Lawn homes Saturday night, and says the company isn’t liable for any damages.”
Olejniczak asked Deetjen to schedule a meeting with ComEd officials.