ComEd checks underground power delivery system

ComEd has assessed more than 10,000 manholes and refurbished more than 6,200 since 2012, as part of its grid modernization program under the smart grid law to improve the electric system's reliability.

The work in 2013 represents an increase in its base-year pace for manhole replacement, a result of the smart grid law. The aim is to assess all 32,000 manholes in ComEd's system by the end of 2017.

Manholes are underground structures containing large electrical cables that power skyscrapers and densely populated residential and commercial neighborhoods across the system.

As part of the grid modernization effort, ComEd also is enhancing its manhole inspection program, capturing more data about the condition of manholes and accelerating its work to refurbish them to improve electric reliability and safety. To both maximize data gathering efficiency and minimize data entry error, ComEd's engineers have developed a new online assessment tool for capturing manhole data, including current condition and any unique issues.

ComEd plans to invest $2.6 billion over 10 years to upgrade and improve the reliability of its system as part of the smart grid law. The utility has been working to improve its infrastructure and add smart technologies, bringing benefits to customers throughout northern Illinois.

Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which serves about 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to about 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.

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