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ComEd sets new all-time usage record

By: WLS Radio 890AM July 21, 2011

ComEd customer demand reached an all-time high peak usage milestone late Wednesday, with demand reaching 23,753 megawatts, exceeding the utility's previous peak of 23,618 megawatts on Aug. 1, 2006.

The combination of increased usage and extreme heat places substantial demands on the electric grid. ComEd is taking important steps in this heat wave to ensure a continuous flow of power. This work is being performed even while crews continue to repair damage from one of the largest and most destructive storms in a decade. The storm that struck the ComEd service territory on July 11 knocked out power to more than 850,000 customers.

ComEd is not alone in experiencing an all-time peak in demand. Abt Electronics has been busier than normal this year with their sales of generators and air-conditioner units.

"Definitely," said Abt Electronics General Manager John Panchisin about an increase in sales this summer. "Sales are through the roof, trucks were making up to three pick ups a day."

Panchisin added that his trucks have been picking up generators and AC units even in the middle of the night to keep up with demand.

Panchisin attributes the sales to more outages this summer and the length of the outages combined with them happening in such a short span.

ComEd says they have invested billions of dollars in its transmission and distribution system in the last decade. This investment has resulted in steady improvements in reliability as well as other aspects of ComEd's business. During that time, there have been 39% fewer customer interruptions.

The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act — Senate Bill 1652 — recently passed by the General Assembly, will strengthen and modernize ComEd's electric infrastructure, which would minimize the impact of storms and extreme heat.

The bill paves the way for much-needed investment to modernize and upgrade the electric infrastructure, including the installation of new cable, the replacement and repair of utility poles and smart grid technologies.

ComEd's proposed $2.6 billion investment would occur over the next decade. These upgrades include smart meters that would automatically notify the company of power outages and technologies that would result in an estimated 700,000 fewer service interruptions annually.

As the Midwest deals with this intense heat wave, ComEd is taking the following measures to meet heavy demand and respond quickly to any outages that may occur:

Keeping its Emergency Operations Center and regional emergency operations centers open; Putting more than 350 crews in the field to monitor the system and respond quickly to any problems that may occur. This is about 100 more crews compared to a typical summer day with average temperatures; and Increasing inspections of critical infrastructure, such as substations, to identify stressed assets before they cause outages.

If customers experience an outage or have any questions about their ComEd service, they are urged to call 1-800-EDISON-1 (1-800-334-7661). Customers seeking cooler accommodations can contact their local municipal officials for information on cooling centers in their area (in Chicago, dial 311).

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