In Wake of Oak Brook Outage Tied to Dig-in, ComEd Reminds Contractors, Residents to 'Call Before Digging'

40,000 customers experienced a preventable loss of service in 2009 due to dig-ins

Jun 17, 2010, 14:07 ET from ComEd

OAK BROOK, Ill., June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- ComEd today issued a reminder to contractors to always call before starting excavation work that could dig into electrical and other utility lines. Yesterday in Oak Brook, a dig-in by a non-ComEd contractor disabled an underground power line that caused an outage to 908 customers in Oak Brook and Westmont. ComEd noted that such dig-ins are preventable but all too common.

In 2009, ComEd's northern Illinois service territory averaged more than one accidental dig-in per day, resulting in nearly 400 incidents caused power outages to 40,000 customers.

To prevent dangerous dig-ins that can lead to injuries and outages, ComEd advises all homeowners and contractors to follow state law by notifying either DIGGER or J.U.L.I.E. at least 48 hours prior to working with excavation equipment. Through these "one-call" services, professional locators will be assigned to visit the digging site and mark the approximate locations of all underground utility lines with flags or spray paint. Customers should contact:

Within City of Chicago: "DIGGER" (Chicago Utility Alert Network) at 312-744-7000

Outside Chicago: "J.U.L.I.E." (Joint Utility Locating for Excavators) at 800-892-0123 or 811

"The reminder to always call before digging is especially important now. With warmer weather comes a larger number of landscaping, construction and do-it-yourself jobs that involve excavation," said Rita Stols, vice president, strategic and support services, ComEd. "By using the free service to locate underground power lines, residents and contractors can ensure their safety, avoid costly damage and reduce preventable power outages."

The Oak Brook dig-in on June 16 occurred just after noon when an independent contractor hit underground primary cables near 35th Street and Meyers Road. All 908 customers were restored in an hour and a half.

An even larger outage occurred on June 9, when 2,252 customers on Chicago's South Side lost power after an independent contractor disabled an underground power line near 77th Street and Dante Avenue. All customers were restored in 74 minutes.

ComEd is committed to preventing serious accidents and fatalities caused by contact with electric power lines. In 2009, ComEd received 562,093 requests to mark underground facilities a year. For more information on the one-call system, visit or

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), one of the nation's largest electric utilities with approximately 5.4 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.