For Immediate Release
ComEd Media Relations
ComEd organizing 50 organizations to drill worst-case scenarios
CHICAGO (April 25, 2023) — To help ensure that critical infrastructure is protected and operations can be restored quickly when severe weather or other catastrophic events occur, ComEd has organized its fifth statewide drill—the only event of its kind led by an electric company in the U.S.—called "Operation Power Play." The two-day event will bring together public and private agencies in Illinois to increase collaboration and test coordinated response efforts to significant weather, security and safety scenarios.
The exercise will include 50 state, county, municipal and private entities, including the City of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, Ameren Illinois and MidAmerican Energy. Over a two-day period, participants will network, explore response equipment and contribute to a variety of emergency response drills throughout the state.
"Severe and destructive weather is expected to increase with climate change, and physical and cyberthreats are on the rise. Operation Power Play takes our preparation efforts further by providing our partners the opportunity to collaborate in advance of potential disasters," said Terence R. Donnelly, President and COO at ComEd. "We take pride in powering our communities, and that goes beyond keeping the lights on in northern Illinois. We are always preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, and we will continue to take that approach to threats and damage to the power grid."
Operation Power Play will begin at Soldier Field on Tuesday, April 25, where participating agencies will showcase equipment and vehicles that would be used to respond in an emergency.
"Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) coordinates exercises and workshops with the City's public safety and infrastructure departments throughout the year to strengthen our ability to share information, manage on-scene response and allocate resources," said Rich Guidice, Executive Director, OEMC. "Having the opportunity to connect with agency peers, see response equipment firsthand and participate in these drills complement our work to enhance our capabilities and lean forward to improve best practices."
Together with its participating agencies, ComEd has coordinated 20 emergency response scenarios across the state for Wednesday, April 26, that include substation sabotage, severe weather and flooding, mass generator deployment and power loss. The exercise scenarios range from discussion-based, tabletop style drill to operations-based, full-scale response deployments.
"In large-scale disasters or emergency events, it is critically important that the key public and private responders are well coordinated and able to communicate quicky and effectively," said Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security (IEMA-OHS) Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. "With so many drills happening simultaneously, and so many organizations in play, these drills are elevated beyond internal contingency planning discussions and lead to impactful learnings that can support future recovery efforts."
As substation security continues to be a key topic in the news, ComEd and the OEMC are conducting a closed-door tabletop exercise with the Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Police Department to discuss substation security and procedural response. The team will consider a wide array of substation sabotage scenarios including fire, hazardous material spill and physical damage scenarios such as an active shooter threat.
"Drills of this nature not only reinforce procedural responses but allow increased familiarity and collaboration between the various agencies responsible for recovery," said Nazia Zakir, Senior Director of Environment, Safety & Health at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. "Reliable power in the face of an emergency is critical to all businesses, especially Argonne. We are honored to be a part of this drill to help assess state-wide recovery efforts."
ComEd will test a new pilot program to deploy generators to nursing homes following power loss during severe weather. During storm recovery efforts, ComEd prioritizes critical infrastructure and vulnerable customers—including nursing homes. Partnering with Mather Senior Living Communities in Evanston and Bickford Senior Living in Gurnee, ComEd teams will concurrently deploy generators onsite and review and refine real-world generation hook-up procedures. The findings from these drills are anticipated to aid in storm recovery efforts for ComEd's vulnerable customers.
Additional drills taking place on April 26 include:
To register for the event and learn more about Operation Power Play, click here.Participating agencies include: Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, American Red Cross, Chicago Board of Exchange Global Markets, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department, ChicagoFIRST, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Region V, City of Evanston, CME Group, Cook County Emergency management and Regional Security, Edward-Elmhurst Hospitals, Exelon, FEMA Region V, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, Illinois Civil Air Patrol, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network, Illinois Professional Emergency Management Association, Lake County Emergency Management Agency, Metra, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, Nicor Gas, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service of Chicago/Paducah/Lincoln, NorthShore University Health System, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Options Clearing Corporation, Region VII Healthcare Coalition, Region X Healthcare Coalition, Rush Hospital Oak Park, United Airlines, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Village of Gurnee, Verizon, West Suburban Medical Center, Will County Emergency Management Agency and Zebra Technologies Corporation.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit
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