In preparation for this summer's high temperatures and severe weather, ComEd has made improvements to its electric system and its storm response processes.
This work includes inspecting and maintaining aerial and underground electrical equipment, substations and other facilities; upgrading, replacing and repairing equipment; emergency response drills and other training for employees; and maintenance and testing of various computer and support systems.
ComEd's summer preparedness program includes digital substation equipment upgrades, replacing more than 46 miles of mainline cable and inspecting more than 137,000 wood poles. ComEd also has completed projects to handle expected increases in neighborhood electric demand, and conducted dozens of additional projects to ensure reliable service for the company's 3.8 million customers this summer.
ComEd is in the midst of a 10-year, $2.6 billion program to modernize its electrical grid. The program includes $1.3 billion to upgrade and storm harden its electric system by replacing thousands of miles of cable and thousands of poles and upgrading substations and other equipment. The utility will spend another $1.3 billion to digitize the system into a smart grid.
The smart grid includes installing advanced technology to help reduce power outages during storms. For example, smart switches (also known as distribution automation devices) route power around potential problem areas, often with no noticeable interruption in service. Installation of these devices resulted in over 1.1 million fewer customer power outages in 2012. During the severe storms that hit the Chicago area in mid-April this year, smart switches prevented over 27,000 service interruptions.
In 2012, ComEd formed a storm task force and made more than 60 enhancements to its storm restoration process, which resulted in a 15 percent improvement in restoration time. These enhancements included GPS and mobile dispatch technology to more efficiently manage crews to expedite restoration, enhanced damage assessment tools, a mobile operations center to bring ComEd closer to customers in hardest hit areas, and more efficient management of contractor crews.
In 2013, ComEd is continuing to build on these process improvements, including enhancing its mutual assistance program, providing better support to municipal first responders and improving material staging to ensure readiness during severe weather.