CHICAGO, Jan. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With the record cold temperatures in northern Illinois, ComEd has taken extra steps to ensure the electrical system is functioning as effectively as possible to meet the extraordinary needs of customers during this period.
"ComEd understands the impact a loss of electrical service can have on customers – especially with the extreme weather that can also place stress on the system," said Terence Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We have increased staffing levels so that we can swiftly respond to any potential issues that may arise and are closely monitoring the system to address challenges that the weather may pose. Crews are prepared and ready to restore service quickly and safely, as needed."
The impact of severe weather is one of the reasons ComEd has focused on and invested heavily in improving system reliability to reduce the frequency and duration of outages affecting customers.
ComEd urges customers to contact the utility immediately if they experience a power outage. Customers can text OUT to 26633 to report their outage or receive restoration information. They also can call 1-800-EDISON-1 (1-800-334-7661), or report it through the web site at ComEd.com. Spanish-speaking customers should call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237).
ComEd also has an interactive outage map on its website, which allows customers to easily find information on the location and size of outages and get estimated power restoration times. Additionally, ComEd has a mobile app for iPhone and Android® smart phones that gives customers the ability to report power outages and manage their accounts.
Customers also are reminded of the following tips to remain safe and comfortable amidst frigid temperatures:
- Be sure to keep space heaters away from furniture or your thermostat.
- Use your ceiling fan to move warm air from the ceiling into the living space.
- Lower your thermostat at night and during unoccupied hours.
- Clean vents and registers to optimize air flow.
- Open your drapes during sunlight hours and close them at night.
- If you have a fireplace, close your fireplace dampers and doors.
- Close vents to rooms that are not in use.
- In the event of an outage, check on elderly and other sensitive family members and neighbors to ensure their safety and make alternate arrangements, if necessary.
Because the extreme weather may also lead to increased energy use, ComEd is reminding customers that there is bill payment assistance for eligible low-income residents, senior citizens, veterans, and activated members of the armed services who are ComEd customers.
"As part of our customer commitment, we offer financial assistance programs to help those experiencing hardship and struggling with their bill payments." said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customers Operations, ComEd. "In extreme weather, we know that energy bills may reflect additional usage and be higher than in months when temperatures are more moderate."
ComEd is providing $50 million in financial assistance over a five-year period to assist eligible customers.
The programs include:
CHAMP (ComEd Helps Active Military Personnel) – This program provides bill-payment assistance to deployed members of the military and veterans who have fallen behind on their bills and who reside within ComEd's Northern Illinois service territory. CHAMP offers a package of benefits, including bill payment assistance of up to $1,000 while funds are available, a deferred payment plan, extended payment due dates, exemption from late charges, deposit reduction and budget payment plans.
Residential Special Hardship program – This initiative is intended to supplement established state-sponsored programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Eligible ComEd residential customers that are experiencing a hardship and who are not Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) participants can receive a grant of up to $1,500 toward their electricity bill. Grant amounts may vary while funds are available.
Non-Profit Assistance Programs – This program provides a one-time variable grant of up to $2,000 for 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations, including faith based organizations, that are experiencing a hardship.
ComEd offers a variety of ways for customers to access and pay their bill including, online at ComEd.com or ComEd's free mobile app available at ComEd.com/app. To apply for the Residential Special Hardship grant, or the State sponsored assistance programs customers should visit a local LIHEAP Agency. For more information on any of ComEd's assistance programs or to enroll in ComEd's bill-payment assistance programs, call 1-888-806-CARE (2273) or visit ComEd.Com/CARE for more information.
Customers are also encouraged to visit ComEd.com for energy-saving tips.
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.