ComEd files plan with ICC for implementing grid modernization

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Chicago, January 9, 2012 – ComEd filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission its 10-year, $2.6 billion Infrastructure Investment Plan. It will invest $1.3 billion to strengthen the electric system and another $1.3 billion to add new, digital smart grid and advanced meter technology that will transform the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses throughout northern Illinois.

The filing also included the utility’s $233 million Investment Plan for 2012 and its plan for a smart grid test bed to provide entrepreneurs “on-grid” locations for testing of smart grid-related technologies and services.

Implementation of the investment program began this week. The installation of advanced meters in homes and businesses is slated to begin later this year, subject to approval of ComEd‘s Advanced Metering Infrastructure Deployment Plan (AMI Plan) by the ICC, and will continue through 2021.

In the first five years of the program, ComEd will reinforce the electric system infrastructure to improve reliability and reduce the frequency and duration of power outages.

ComEd’s 2012 plan outlines $139 million in capital investments that will be dedicated to improving system reliability and $94 million in smart grid investments. The largest investments in reliability enhancements include refurbishment and replacement of underground residential distribution cable.

Upgrades also are being made to the utility’s mainline underground system, which includes 8,300 miles of cable. ComEd considers the mainline cable program to be among the most complex initiatives as it involves several phases of work, including manhole assessment and cable testing, refurbishment and replacement.

Investments also are aimed at a storm-hardening program, which is designed to reduce the susceptibility of certain power line circuits to storm-related damage, including high winds, thunderstorms and ice storms.

Power lines will be prioritized based on their historical susceptibility to storm-related damage and the ability to provide the greatest customer benefit. The 2012 reliability investments also include the inspection and any necessary treatment of about 133,400 wood utility poles.

ComEd will begin the digital transformation of the electric infrastructure with the addition of advanced digital technologies to improve overall system reliability and performance. Major planned investments include the installation of advanced meters in homes and businesses beginning in the fourth quarter of 2012. ComEd expects to install 130,000 meters within the first year. Beginning in 2013, it will install an average of 440,000 meters annually through completion of the program.

Smart grid investments in 2012 also include the distribution automation program, through which ComEd will accelerate the installation of devices that will automatically re-route power around a problem, often with no noticeable interruption of service. The DA program also calls for the installation of a radio system to remotely transmit and relay control functions and provide system updates, as well as a computer system that will control, operate, monitor and store electrical distribution data.

Investments also include modernizing 10 electrical substations through which electric power flows to customers, as well as the installation of microprocessor relays that will improve the automated monitoring of substation performance. These upgrades will result in a range of customer benefits, including increased reliability and reduced power delivery expenses.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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