T&D World Magazine

Significant Electric Grid Modernization Work Coming to ComEd Service Area

As part of the historic Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act enacted in October, ComEd has begun significant electric grid improvements throughout the ComEd service area. This work is part of the utility’s effort to provide better reliability for area customers, prepare its system for new demands of the 21st century economy and provide new ways for consumers to save on their energy bills.

“The grid modernization law is a value promise made to Illinoisconsumers,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. “Our entire organization is now focused on the critical construction programs that willdeliver greater value to our customers through improved reliability and customer service.”

The grid modernization work planned throughout the service area for the first quarter of 2012 will include:

  • ComEd will replace or reinforce utility poles at approximately 250 locations. Appropriately replacing or reinforcing poles is a necessary part of the overall maintenance of the electric grid, and can help improve reliability in some storm conditions.
  • The company will replace or inject more than 506,000 feet of underground residential distribution cable (URD). This cable will either be injected to fill in voids in the insulation or replaced where necessary to reduce the number of customer service interruptions due to cable failures.
  • ComEd will conduct other enhancements designed to improve performance and reduce service interruptions including lightning enhancements, installing nearly 600 distribution automation devices, replacing more than 32,000 feet of mainline cable, assessing manholes at 660 locations, and conducting VLF testing on approximately 12 sections of cable. Testing the cable is designed to improve the performance of ComEd’s underground system by identifying sections that may need to be repaired or replaced. This is intended to reduce the number and duration of interruptions seen by customers.
Additional grid modernization work scheduled across the service territory throughout 2012 will include:
  • ComEd will replace or reinforce utility poles in approximately 1,400 locations.
  • The company will replace or inject more than 1.6 million feet of URD cable.
  • ComEd will conduct other enhancements designed to improve performance and reduce service interruptions including lightning enhancements, installing more than 430 distribution automation devices, tree trimmings in approximately 2,300 locations, replacing more than 15,000 feet of mainline cable, conducting testing at nearly 100 sections of cable, and assessing manholes at more than 3,200 locations.
On Jan. 6, ComEd filed with the ICC its 10-year, $2.6 billion Infrastructure Investment Plan to strengthen the utility system and add new, digital smart grid and advanced meter technology that will transform the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses throughout northern Illinois.

The filing also included the utility’s $233 million Investment Plan for 2012 and its plan for a smart grid Test Bed to provide entrepreneurs “on-grid” locations for testing of smart grid-related technologies and services.

In November, ComEd filed with the ICC its performance-based formula rate tariff, followed by the filing of its Multi-Year Performance Metrics Plan, which is designed to ensure ComEd delivers on its promises.

Over the course of the 10-year modernization program, the company will invest $1.3 billion to strengthen the existing power grid serving northern Illinois by replacing thousands of miles of underground cable; inspecting, treating and, where necessary, replacing or reinforcing wood poles; and performing “storm hardening” to further reduce the susceptibility of circuits to storm-related damage. The company will invest another $1.3 billion to upgrade and digitize the electric system, including deployment of distribution automation devices that will automatically detect problems on the system and reroute power; modernizing 10 of its substations to digital technology with real-time equipment monitoring; and the installation of digital meters in every home.

Overall, the grid modernization investments will help ComEd significantly reduce outages and will give customers the tools to manage their energy usage and save money.

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