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ComEd To Outline Plan For Better Storm Outage Response

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A ComEd truck parked behind a home after storms caused power outages on June 21, 2011.  (Credit: CBS)

A ComEd truck parked behind a home after storms caused power outages on June 21, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 04/11/12 11:24 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Commonwealth Edison will outline Wednesday how it hopes to improve its response to storm outages.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, the utility reached agreement last fall with the Northwest Municipal Conference days after the conference released a stinging white paper and threatened to block smart grid legislation in Springfield.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

The conference found that ComEd was unable to process, track, prioritize or even verify downed wires, or provide officials with basic, reliable and timely repair information. It also found that strategic investment to fix chronically-troubled circuits was lacking.

The new protocols require direct contact with local officials to assure complaints are registered and placed in the system for repair, an on-site Edison contact, and community-by-community updates every four hours until power is restored.

ComEd president and chief executive officer Anne Pramaggiore will detail the new protocols in a 1:30 p.m. conference call Wednesday with Wilmette Village President Christopher Canning, who also heads the conference.

One of the biggest complaints registered by municipal leaders last summer was that specific outages could be reported numerous times, yet Edison had no record of them, much less a timetable for repair.

The Chicago area was battered with six storms in a span of just seven weeks, including a storm July 11 that resulted in a record 868,000 customers losing power. Power was not fully restored until six days later.

ComEd argued that a smart grid measure would solve the outage problem. A smart grid would add monitoring, analysis, control, and communication capabilities to the national electrical delivery system to maximize the throughput of the system while reducing the energy consumption.

Gov. Pat Quinn initially vetoed legislation for the smart grid, on the grounds that it would hike electric rates. But the Illinois General Assembly overrode the veto.

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