customer engagement

Illinois electric utility ComEd has been recognised for its programme that allows it to remotely check a meter for service trouble when a customer reports an outage.
According to a release, in ComEd’s service territory, 60% of the outages reported on “blue sky days” are usually due to a problem on the customer-owned equipment —typically a problem with the property’s circuit breakers.

When a customer outage is reported, a signal or “ping” is sent to the smart meter. A response from the meter indicates the outage is the result of customer equipment; no response means there is a potential electrical system issue. ComEd has seamlessly integrated a meter ping across all of its customer-facing outage reporting channels including ComEd.com, mobile app, mobile web, text (SMS), and Facebook.

Technology benefits

ComEd’s notes that the results of this technology includes faster notification to customers of potential outage causes. In 2016, nearly 70,000 outages were reported through a customer outage reporting channel.

Through the meter “ping” technology, nearly 29,000 fewer crews have had to be sent to investigate those outages, creating operational savings that are passed along to customers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fewer trucks driving to outage locations.

“We’re honored to be recognized for this technology,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customer Operations, ComEd. “Part of the promise of smart meters has been the ability to have greater awareness of outages and causes. The meter “ping” capability means we can more quickly prioritise and respond to customer needs.”

ComEd has been installing smart meters for its 3.8 million customers since 2012. It expects to be complete in 2018.

Customers with smart meters can take advantage of ComEd’s smart meter-enabled tools and make a direct impact on their electric bills, including:

  • Personalised Energy-Management Tools are available by logging into your online ComEd account. Here, customers can access free personalised energy saving tips, set savings goals, enroll in high-usage alerts which notify customers when their electricity is trending higher than usual for their household, and sign up to receive weekly usage reports via email.
  • Hourly Pricing programme allows residential customers to pay the hourly prices for electricity which means customers can save by using electricity when prices are lower.
  • Participants also receive customer support and services to help manage costs with hourly pricing. Services include real-time high price alerts, predicted day-ahead high price alerts, an online bill comparison tool, and information to help guide energy decisions.