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ComEd says smart grid reduced effects of harsh winter

Steve Rogerson
March 20, 2019



Chicago utility ComEd said its smart grid improvements meant fewer people suffered the effects of this year’s harsh winter.
 
Technologies such as distribution automation, or smart switches, that reroute power around trouble spots helped avoid more than 280,000 customer interruptions for families and businesses during storms this season.
 
This winter has seen prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures and more ice storms than in recent years. During the polar vortex, the Chicago area experienced 52 straight hours of sub-zero temperatures, the fourth-longest stretch on record, and several daily records for cold temperatures.
 
The post-Thanksgiving storm brought a combination of ice, high winds and sustained below-freezing temperatures not seen in the Chicago area in more than 20 years. On average, more than 80 per cent of the 530,000 ComEd customers who lost power during these winter storms were restored within 24 hours.
 
“When we began our grid modernisation work in 2012, we made a promise to bring improved reliability to our customers,” said Joe Dominguez, CEO of ComEd. “We kept that promise, setting reliability records while keeping energy bills flat. Our customers have seen the benefits this winter as we continue to bring more improvements to the system.”
 
ComEd started its smart grid investments following the passage of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act by the Illinois General Assembly in 2012. Since then, its customers have enjoyed 45 per cent fewer power outages on average. During that time, the company has avoided more than 11 million individual customer interruptions, due in part to smart grid and system improvements.
 
The avoided outages have resulted in $2.1bn in societal savings. Additionally, in 2018 its customers saw record reliability in the city of Chicago, where the frequency of outages has been reduced by nearly 60 per cent since 2012.
 
In the past ten years, the average ComEd residential customer bill has remained steady. In June 2008, the average monthly bill was approximately $85; in January 2019, the average bill was approximately $83.
 
ComEd is a subsidiary of Chicago-based Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately ten million electricity and natural gas customers. ComEd powers the lives of more than four million users across northern Illinois, or 70 per cent of the state’s population.