CHICAGO, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In preparation for this summer's high temperatures and severe weather, ComEd has made significant 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.
"The summer months can present extreme challenges for ComEd's electric system in the form of high heat and severe storms," said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. "That is why we've planned ahead and strategically invested in our systems to ensure that we deliver the safe and reliable service our customers deserve and expect. These preparations help us keep the lights on in the face of the challenges Mother Nature throws our way."
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.
More Communication and Outage Reporting Options
Last year, ComEd introduced several new communications and outage reporting tools for customers. Customers can report an outage by texting OUT to 26633 (COMED), using a smart phone mobile app, or going to ComEd's Facebook page, Facebook.com/ComEd, or ComEd's website at ComEd.com. These channels also provide outage restoration information. Customers also can follow ComEd on Twitter (@ComEd) or on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest information. ComEd's new communications tools were recognized as among the best in the utility industry by J.D. Power and Associates.
Save Money on Hot Days
Higher temperatures can lead to increased energy usage and higher bills because of greater energy required to run air conditioners and other cooling devices. The following tips from ComEd can help reduce energy usage by up to 20 percent and possibly more this summer:
- Manage your thermostat: For customers with energy-efficient central air conditioning, keep thermostats at a constant, comfortable level when at home. Raise the thermostat setting for days of extreme heat to save even more. Lowering the thermostat setting below the desired temperature will not cool your home faster.
- Check air conditioner size and placement: For those with room air conditioners, ensure that the appliance is sized properly for the room and turn the unit off if someone is not going to be in the room for an extended period of time. Place window air conditioners on the north or shady side of the house to avoid overworking the unit in the hot daytime sun.
- Use fans to circulate air: For those without air conditioning, we recommend ceiling fans or portable fans operating 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 and reduce your air conditioner's "on" time.
- Use appliances wisely: To reduce interior heat during the warmest part of the day, run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers in the early morning or evening hours when it's generally cooler outside. Also, use a microwave to cook, or barbecue outside, if possible, during the hottest days.
- Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed: About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows. Simply drawing blinds and curtains, which act as a layer of insulation, can reduce heat gain to your home. Awnings are even better and can dramatically reduce heat from the sun. Window coatings and window film can reject as much as 80 percent of the heat from the sun.
- Keep the hot air out: Turn off all unnecessary lighting and appliances, which add heat to the home. Keep doors to the outside, garage or attic firmly closed to keep cool air in and hot air out.
- Look for energy-efficient appliances: When shopping for appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, look for the ENERGY STAR® label, and purchase the most affordable energy-efficient unit. Newer more energy-efficient models lower monthly operating costs.
- Replace inefficient lighting: Replace your old standard incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. CFLs and LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and can last up to 30 times longer, depending on which technology you choose.
- Get paid to save. Use energy-efficient appliances which use less energy than older models. ComEd will pick up your old, working refrigerator or freezer for FREE and send you $35 for participating. Schedule online at ComEd.com/FridgeRecycling or call 855-433-2700.
Those in the market for a new central air conditioner should look for ENERGY STAR®-qualified A/C units, which will be at least 15 percent more efficient than conventional models. ComEd offers incentives for the simultaneous installation of qualifying high-efficiency furnace and central air conditioning systems.
For more energy-saving tools, tips and resources, visit ComEd.com/SmartIdeas or call 855-433-2700.
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation's leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.