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ComEd Reports on Improved Reliability in Chicago

Smart grid investments contribute to improvements in frequency and duration of outages

CHICAGO (June 7, 2016) – ComEd presented its summer readiness plans and reviewed improvements in reliability for the City of Chicago today at a Chicago City Council Hearing with members of the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection.

In its presentation, ComEd noted that the City of Chicago had seen a 50 percent improvement in the frequency of outages over the last decade. In addition, nearly 90 percent of Chicago residents had experienced either zero or one interruption in 2015, a four percent improvement since 2014.

"Our approach enabled us to improve reliability in Chicago for four consecutive years, achieving a 99.99 percent reliability rate in 2015," said Terence R. Donnelly, ComEd executive vice president and COO. "The work we have completed will help us deliver on that commitment and ensure our systems and employees are prepared to meet the needs of our customers throughout the summer."

In his remarks, Donnelly outlined smart grid work done in Chicago since 2012, including:

  • Installation of more than 800 distribution automation devices (DA), which  avoided approximately 217,000 customer interruptions last year, which is 50,000 more avoided interruptions than in 2014
  • Digital upgrades at five substations (Wallace, Franklin Park, Clearing, Sawyer and Tonne) benefitting more than 66,000 Chicago customers, including O'Hare and Midway airports
  • Completed digital upgrades at the Hegewish substation in January 2016, from which nearly 4,800 10th Ward customers are benefittin
  • Assessed more than 20,000 manholes in the city, with 15,000 of them being refurbished
  • Replaced a total of 345 miles of mainline cable resulting in the fewest mainline underground faults in over a decade; a 26% improvement from 2014.
  • Inspected and treated over 109,000 wood poles in Chicago with more than 1000 replaced or reinforced.

"Smart grid work and process improvements have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the number of Chicagoans impacted by storms and experiencing repeat outages," Donnelly said. "Gains in reliability, a commitment to providing the premiere customer experience, investments in new technologies and deepening community engagements demonstrate the benefits we are delivering to our Chicago customers."

Each year ComEd completes hundreds of tasks to prepare for the summer season. The company also conducts emergency response and cyber drills as part of the company's summer preparedness program. Employees from across the company, including those who work in the field and those who provide back office support, review emergency processes and procedures to help ensure safe and efficient response to severe summer weather or emergencies.

As part of the Exelon family of companies, ComEd also shares best practices with its sister utilities -  Atlantic City Electric, BGE, PECO, Delmarva Power and Pepco - and participates in collaborative emergency response training exercises to ensure the company can provide seamless support and resources to another Exelon utility during storm or emergency restoration efforts.

Higher temperatures also can lead to higher energy bills. Customers can save energy and money this summer by following a few simple tips:

  • Turn it off: Turn off all unnecessary lighting and devices.
  • Manage your thermostat: Keep thermostats at a constant, comfortable level when at home. Raise the thermostat setting for days of extreme heat to save even more. Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature settings when you're away or sleeping.
  • Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed: About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows. Simply closing blinds and curtains, which act as a layer of insulation, can reduce heat in your home.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air: For those without air conditioning, use ceiling fans or portable fans with the windows partially open to circulate fresh air into your home. For those with air conditioning, fans can be used to evenly distribute cool air.
  • Use appliances wisely: Run appliances that produce heat (like clothes dryers, ovens and dishwashers) at night when it is cooler.

Customers can save even more with ComEd's Smart Ideas, the company's full suite of energy efficiency programs to help residential, business, government and non-profit customers save energy and money. For more ways to save energy, visit ComEd.com/smartideas.

The summer months also can bring severe weather. ComEd reminds customers to stay safe during storms and reminds customers to report issues immediately. Customers should visit ComEd.com/alerts before a storm hits to choose how they would like to receive information, via text, email or phone, including when power is out in their area, when service is expected to be restored, or when power is restored. And, by texting "OUT" to COMED (26633), customers can enroll in ComEd's two-way texting program to report outages and check the status of their outage.

ComEd has introduced a mobile app for iPhone and Android® smart phones that gives customers the ability to report power outages and manage their accounts. It is available in the iPhone and Android app stores. Our online interactive outage map also gives customers more information. Visit https://www.comed.com/_layouts/comedsp/OutageMap.

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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 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.

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