ComEd officials recently participated in an important policy session held by the Illinois Commerce Commission to discuss the significant improvements made to the electrical delivery system and utility readiness to meet the demands of potential severe summer weather. The utility also provided a look back at its results in 2015, which demonstrated improved reliability to its customers.
ComEd reported that in 2015 the company marked a third year of record system reliability and its best safety performance on record. As a result of smart grid and other system investments, ComEd customers avoided nearly 2.5 million power interruptions and experienced a 42 percent reduction in the average duration of outages.
The company also reported that since the start of smart grid program, which began in 2012, the frequency of power outages have declined by 44 percent and storm-related customer interruptions have decreased by 30 percent. In that same time period, advanced technology like smart switches that reroute power around potential problem areas, new storm-hardening solutions and cable replacement also have contributed to nearly 6 million avoided customer interruptions – resulting in $1.1 billion in societal savings.
“The smart grid investments and other system improvements continue to provide direct benefits to our customers. 2015 marked three years of record system reliability and the best safety performance on record for ComEd,” said Terence R. Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer, ComEd. “As we move into the summer season, our system and employees are ready and remain focused on providing our customers the very best service possible.”
ComEd outlined its plans to prepare for storms in 2016. Back in 2012, ComEd launched yearly storm task force groups to review and improve ComEd processes during severe weather. To date more than 300 process improvements have been made. This year, teams are focused on several areas including providing more accurate restoration times to customers, better management of crew scheduling and the ability to more quickly train mutual assistance crews, and improving the gathering of metrics.
ComEd also detailed its work to participate in local and national exercises with other utilities and contractors to improve coordination in the event of larger scale storms. ComEd also hosted a local contractor symposium to review process changes and improvements, and share feedback and best practices from them.
“We are an active member of three regional mutual assistance groups, which gives more resources to draw from in the event of a significant weather event,” said Michelle Blaise, senior vice-president of Technical Services for ComEd. “We worked with our sister utilities – PECO, BGE and PHI – as well as state and local agencies to drill on emergency preparedness. We also work regularly with city and county officials on Load Shed and response exercises. All of this coordination means that we are better prepared, and our mutual assistance crews are will be ready to jump into action when needed to restore customers quickly and safely.”
One of the most important aspects of ComEd’s daily work and storm response is communication with its customers. The utility reported that, in an effort to improve its availability to customers, it extended its customer service hours by one hour per day, now Monday – Friday 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Additionally, more than 100 temporary customer service agents are being on-boarded to assist with increased summer call volume.