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ComEd Marks Earth Day by Improving Habitat for Imperiled Monarch Butterflies

Increased milkweed provides improved food and breeding sources

CHICAGO (April 22, 2016) – As part its Earth Day celebration and commitment to the environment, ComEd announced today a new effort to help the state's monarch butterfly population by adjusting the prairie grass mixture that it has planted for years along Illinois power lines as part of its prairie restoration program.  The energy company is increasing the amount of milkweed seed, on which monarch butterflies depend, by more than 30 percent.  ComEd made this announcement at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, where experts lauded the move.

The monarch butterfly population has seen a dramatic drop in the last 20 years. In 2014, 90 percent of the population had been lost due to several factors, including losses of food plants in their breeding grounds.

Milkweed is a critical plant for monarch butterflies because it is the only nutritional source for monarch caterpillars.

"Many of ComEd's Rights of Way are in the breeding grounds of the monarch butterflies," said Isaac Akridge, Vice-President of Support Services for ComEd. "By increasing the milkweed seed in our prairie mix, we hope to create a stronger environment for the monarch butterflies and help bolster their population."

ComEd's prairie restoration program helps restore native prairie habitats on transmission Rights-of-Way (ROW) and buffers in an effort to provide habitat for native plant and animal species. As part of the work, invasive plant species that interfere with native prairie plants and ComEd's ability to maintain its transmission lines are removed and native prairie plants are reintroduced. Although Illinois is known as the "Prairie State", less than 0.01 percent of Illinois' original 21 million acres of prairie remains today.  Most remaining prairies survive only as tiny, isolated patches and many species of prairie plants and animals have either disappeared or are in rapid decline due to loss of habitat.  The successful installation of a prairie habitat along ComEd ROW helps restore the natural environmental back to Illinois.

ComEd will begin including the higher levels of milkweed seeds for planting in the winter, which is when the seeds naturally get planted.

"Each year at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, hundreds of thousands of people connect with a wide variety of beautiful butterflies in our Judy Istock Butterfly Haven," said Deborah Lahey, president and CEO of the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. "Outside the Museum, our butterfly conservation initiatives help give endangered and imperiled butterflies a new chance at life. The commitment of ComEd to its prairie program and to increase the milkweed in the area will give people the chance to see and enjoy more monarch butterflies, Illinois' official state insect."

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Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 4 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.

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