outages
Street lights vanished in blackouts

The annual reliability report issued by US utility ComEd recently to the Illinois Commerce Commission shows consumers have experienced a 10% decrease in outages in 2017 from 2016 levels.

For ComEd, this means 2017 is the best on record performance for the fifth year in a row.

ComEd customers impacted per storm outage were fewer and the utility had fewer lengthy outages during storms. The energy provider reduced the number of customers who experienced an outage lasting for 12 or more hours during storms by 81%, compared to before the initial investment in smart grid development five years ago.

Terence R. Donnelly, COO at ComEd, said: “The investments we’ve made to strengthen and modernise the grid across our systems are enabling us to deliver strong results for our customers.

“Since the smart grid programme was launched in 2012, the frequency and duration of outages has been reduced by nearly 50%. We are now focused on sustaining this new higher standard and making additional investments.”

Investments in smart grid include the installation of smart switches, storm hardening engineering solutions, enhanced vegetation management and grid resiliency investments.

These have also resulted in the utility’s overall customer satisfaction score rising in 2017 according to a study conducted by J.D Power.

Colin Wilkie, energy and operations manager, School District 200, said:  “The smart grid investments made by ComEd are helping us better manage energy usage and costs for 23 facilities throughout one of the largest school districts in Illinois.

“Utilities can’t prevent storms but they can fortify their systems to be less vulnerable and use technology to expedite the restoration process and improve communications, and that’s what ComEd is doing. A more modern grid will also increase access to renewable energy, which is of great interest to school administrators and to our students.”

The news follows an announcement that ComEd has secured approval from the Illinois energy regulator to construct a microgrid in Chicago’s South Side neighbourhood of Bronzeville.

The microgrid will be funded using $5 million in grant money which ComEd secured from the US Department of Energy.

The microgrid will serve the Illinois Institute of Technology and will help the utility to study how microgrids support the integration of clean energy onto the grid and increase grid security to keep power flowing even during extreme weather or a catastrophic event.