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ComEd Upgrades And Improves Systems To Prepare For Winter Weather

CHICAGO, Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the temperatures begin to drop, ComEd has taken steps to ensure the electric grid – and customers – are ready for whatever the season brings. ComEd has made significant improvements to its electric system and its storm response processes. This work includes inspecting and reinforcing aerial and underground electrical equipment, substations and other facilities; upgrading, replacing and repairing equipment; conducting emergency response drills and other training for employees; and maintaining and testing of critical computer and support systems.

"Winter storms bring high winds, snow and ice, which can add stress to our infrastructure and our customers," said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. "Modernization and storm hardening efforts by ComEd are already paying dividends for customers in the form of improved reliability as well as fewer and shorter outages.  Our focus and investments in our systems will help us, and our customers, be better prepared for the winter season ahead."

In 2012, ComEd formed a storm task force and made more than 60 enhancements to its storm restoration process, which resulted in a 15 percent improvement in restoration times for major storms. These enhancements included GPS and mobile crew dispatch technology to expedite restoration, enhanced damage assessment tools, a mobile operations center to bring ComEd closer to customers in hardest hit areas, and more efficient management of contractor crews.  In 2013, ComEd is continuing to build on these process improvements, including enhancing its mutual assistance program to provide better coordination for outside utilities arriving to help with larger outages, providing better support to municipal first responders and improving material staging to ensure readiness during severe weather.

"We are continually reviewing and improving our storm response to reduce the impact on our customers," said Terence R. Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer, ComEd.  "The processes we are putting into place will help ensure we have people and equipment in place to restore power in the event of a significant winter storm."

ComEd also offers the following tips to help customers safely prepare their homes for winter weather, manage their energy usage and reduce electricity costs.

  • Inspect the caulking and weather-stripping around all windows, doors and openings for utility services, replacing as necessary. Making these improvements could result in savings of up to 20 percent on annual heating bills.
  • When at home in the winter, keep your thermostat at 68 degrees or less. When leaving home for more than four hours in the winter, turn your thermostat down 5 to 10 degrees.
  • During cold weather, take advantage of the sun's warmth by keeping drapes open during daylight hours.  
  • Reverse the rotation of ceiling fan blades, which should spin clockwise at low speed during the winter months, so the warm air that has risen can be re-distributed around the room.
  • Replace incandescent holiday lights with LEDs.  They're durable, cooler to the touch and use 65% less energy than conventional incandescent light strands.
  • Visit ComEd.com and select "Use My Energy Tools" beneath the "My Usage" tab. Customers can evaluate past energy usage and learn about more ways to keep their homes energy efficient.

ComEd also wants to help its customers who may be struggling to pay their electricity bills.  The company offers financial assistance programs for customers who qualify, including: Residential Special Hardship grants, C.H.A.M.P. (ComEd Helps Active Military Personnel) and Non-Profit Special Hardship programs, as funds are available. ComEd also offers gift certificates in time for the holiday season so customers can help friends or family members pay their bills.

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