ComEd prepares for extreme heat with extra staff

June 27, 2012 8:40:30 PM PDT
ABC7 got an exclusive look inside ComEd's command center in Joliet as the electric company prepares for what could be a peak power day Thursday.

ComEd crews are usually busy in the summer. A combination of storms and heat typically bring about numerous widespread power outages, which keep repair crews on the run. The company says improvements to infrastructure, especially their so-called smart grid, should help minimize those problems this summer.

"The adjustments we've made have caused our customers to see fewer outages, and when they do see outages those outages are of of a shorter duration," said Jim Conway, ComEd.

The forecast for triple digit temperatures has ComEd planning ahead, expecting high electricity usage to test the system. They are urging people to conserve, but they also say they're ready.

At ComEd's central command in Joliet, employees have the Weather Channel on constantly as they monitor electricity usage and any outages. GPS technology helps them get repair crews to outages more quickly. And from the command center they are often able to divert power from other sources to the areas that need it.

ComEd officials will meet to go over plans first thing Thursday morning, but they say they expect it should be no different from other hot days so far this year.

"The difference for us between 95 and 100 is not that great. We do expect to have outages on the system. We have outages every day," said Conway.

Even though ComEd will have more staff on hand and others on call, they believe they should be able to handle the increased demand with little interruption to service.

ComEd prepares customers to beat the heat (PRESS RELEASE)
ComEd offers tips to reduce energy use, save on bills despite high temperatures, projected demand

With temperatures expected to reach 100 degrees or more this week, ComEd is prepared for the heat and has made nearly 300 additional crew members available to work extended and overnight hours as needed this week. Additionally, ComEd will operate five regional command centers throughout northern Illinois to closely monitor system conditions and manage quick response to any potential maintenance needs.

Though the electric system is performing well, the company is encouraging customers to manage their energy use efficiently to save money while keeping cool during the heat, including:

  • Lights out. Turn off unused lighting and appliances. Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs, which use about 75 percent less energy.
  • Be a grill guru. Use an outdoor grill or microwave to prepare meals. Run appliances, such as ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers, in the early morning or late evenings.
  • Stay cool. Keep home thermostats at a constant, comfortable level (75-78 degrees). Keep blinds and curtains closed and use fans to reduce air conditioners' energy usage and place air conditioners in shady areas.
  • Keep away. Move lamps and televisions away from the thermostat, the heat they generate can cause air conditioners to work harder.
  • Get paid to save. Use energy-efficient appliances which use less energy than older models. ComEd will pick up and recycle older refrigerators or freezers in good, working condition and pay customers $35 for each appliance. Schedule online or call 1-888-806-2273.

Those in the market for a new air conditioner should look for ENERGY STAR?-qualified A/C units, which will be at least 10 percent more efficient than conventional models. It's a buying decision that can translate into savings of up to $95 per year and also reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

ComEd residential customers can get a $75 instant rebate on select ENERGY STAR? qualified clothes washers at participating Chicagoland stores. To take advantage of the rebate, visit participating stores and look for the ComEd Smart Ideas? sticker on qualifying units or ask a retail sales person for more information. For more energy-saving tips, visit www.ComEd.com/SmartIdeas.

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