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Dispute With ComEd Has Family Without Power For Past Month

The Breckenridge family in downstate Streator has been without power for a month over a dispute with ComEd about a damaged utility pole, and has been relying on a temporary generator for electricity. (Credit: CBS)

The Breckenridge family in downstate Streator has been without power for a month over a dispute with ComEd about a damaged utility pole, and has been relying on a temporary generator for electricity. (Credit: CBS)

Marissa Bailey (CBS) Marissa Bailey
Marissa Bailey is the weekend anchor of the CBS 2 Chicago morning...
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STREATOR, Ill. (CBS) – A desperate mother contacted CBS 2 on Tuesday, after going without power for a month. Her LaSalle County home has electric heat, and lately it’s been cold.

It’s happening in Streator, just south of Starved Rock State Park.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports, the Breckenridge family says their days in the dark stem from a thunderstorm that happened three years ago.

For the past month, dinnertime at the her family home means Shauna Breckenridge has to cook by using power from a generator.

“It’s been difficult,” she said.

It’s also been cold. The inside temperature is a crisp 55 degrees. No electricity means no heat.

Breckenridge’s three girls are bundled in winter coats inside the house, a house navigated at night by a lantern.

Three years ago a ComEd pole across the road snapped during a storm and hit a pole in the Breckenridge’s front yard.

“We bought this house not knowing that these poles were not ours,” she said.

ComEd told Breckenridge it was her property, so it was her responsibility to repair the pole on her property. She filed a complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

After a hearing with ComEd and a judge one month ago, the company told Breckenridge the wire supplying power to the home was hanging too low, and they had to cut the power to her house.

She said, within 45 minutes of that discussion, there was a notification hung on their door and their power had been shut off.

It all stemmed from a ComEd pole falling and hitting the pole on their property during that storm three years ago. If that had never happened, the Breckenridge home would still have power.

“It would be nice and toasty warm, and actually you probably wouldn’t be here,” Breckenridge told Bailey.

Breckenridge said she spends at least $20 a day running the generator. It’s a cost she said is worth paying to keep her family warm, but one she shouldn’t have to pay.

“They wanted us to put in three poles, fix the wire, and then they will turn the electricity on,” she said. That would mean hiring an electrician who has a cherry picker truck and the manpower to put up three utility poles, an estimated cost of at least $3,200.

Breckenridge admitted she is behind on her ComEd bill, but this issue is completely separate. ComEd sent a statement late Tuesday night saying she is responsible for the repairs, and “given the unsafe condition at her home, we had no choice but to disconnect her service until this situation is resolved.”