Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Grid modernisation helps ComEd hit record performance

Steve Rogerson
February 14, 2017

For the past five years, Chicago-based energy provider ComEd has updated and modernised its electrical grid to improve the reliability of its service. The work has resulted in a claimed record setting performance that is also helping power economic development and customer satisfaction.
In 2016, ComEd customers experienced a 15 per cent reduction in the frequency of outages compared with 2015. This was the best among all utilities according to Electric Benchmarking. Since investments began in 2012, frequency of outages has been reduced by nearly 34 per cent and the duration of outages has been reduced by 48 per cent.
Additionally ComEd’s customer’s satisfaction ratings are at an all-time high. Market Strategies International, a market research firm, named ComEd Most Improved Electric Utility of 2016.
“Improving the reliability of our system for our customers has always been the fundamental goal of our smart grid work,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd. “A constant, on-going review of our system allowed us to strategically invest in areas that would benefit the greatest number of customers. Our record setting performance is the result of that work and demonstrates the commitment of our employees to provide our customers with best in class service.”
Advanced technology such as smart switches that reroute power around potential problem areas, new storm hardening services and cable replacement have contributed to more than 7.6 million avoided customer interruptions since 2012 – resulting in $1.4bn in societal savings. Additionally, more than three million ComEd customers experienced zero or only one outage last year.
“The smart grid investment has vastly improved the infrastructure of our system,” said Terence Donnelly, executive vice-president and chief operating officer for ComEd. “On a daily basis and during storms, our customers are seeing less interruption in their lives and their business operations.”
Strong power reliability and Illinois’ low power prices are key reasons why businesses continue to commit to building facilities in its northern Illinois service territory, says the company. This is evidenced in the collective 2016 results of ComEd’s economic development allies, which supported the announcement of 39,234 jobs, 5.5 million square metres in facilities and $6.7bn in capital investment.
“ComEd’s continued infrastructure investment aimed at modernising and bringing innovative digital equipment to the grid is an important component to Illinois’ economic growth efforts,” said Jim Schultz, CEO of Intersect Illinois, a privately funded economic development organisation. “We are pleased to see utility industry record setting reliability performance which provides businesses the assurance that Illinois is the right place for their continued growth and investment.”