ComEd Introduces New Enhancements to Improve Communications During Outages
In response to ongoing reliability concerns that were magnified during widespread outages that occurred in 2011, ComEd has launched an expanded website with a reformatted design and navigational structure, enhanced search functionality and new outage map feature. The redesigned website, along with other enhancements that are intended to improve communications between ComEd and Village residents and business owners during periods when electrical service may be interrupted due to weather events or other circumstances, are briefly outline below.
As indicated, ComEd’s new website (www.comed.com) provides customers with improved functionality and more information during storms and emergencies. The new outage map, implemented in May of this year, features:
- Color-coded icons to indicate the number of customers affected within a particular area
- The ability to view outages by county, zip code or municipality
- Zoom capability to a particular area, as well as the ability to locate a particular address on the outage map by use of a “Go To” dialog box
- Navigation capability that allows customers to report an outage, or access the ‘My Account’ section of the ComEd website
- The ability to view the number of homes or businesses affected by a particular outage
- The ability to view outages at the street-level or circuit-level
- Information on the cause of an outage, as well as estimated restoration times
The revamped website also contains a host of other information, including updates on energy efficiency programs and savings tools and incentives for both homes and businesses, as well as information on smart meters and ComEd’s new smart grid program that is to be deployed over the next several years.
NEW SMART PHONE APPLICATION
ComEd has also developed a new mobile phone application, or “app”. Now available for download on Apple iPhones and Android smart phones, customers can report outages and check the status of restoration efforts right from their smartphone. Customers can also receive notifications as their outage status is updated.
In addition to the outage reporting functionality, customers can view account information, manage budget billing and automatic payments, report a meter reading and find bill payment locations. Customers can also make a one-time payment through the application, and link to ComEd’s social media outlets via Twitter (@ComEd), Facebook (Facebook.com/ComEd) and YouTube (YouTube.com/CommonwealthEdison).
To download the app, customers can search for “ComEd” in their application store on their respective smartphones and select “Install”. The application is free. To learn more about ComEd’s mobile application, visit www.comed.com/app
TEXT MESSAGING CAPABILITY DURING OUTAGES
ComEd has also implemented two-way messaging capability that allows customers to text outage information to ComEd and get restoration information in response. Customers can sign up for this service by visiting www.comed.com/text. Once enrolled, customers can text the word “OUT” to 26633 (COMED) to report an outage, while also receiving real-time outage status updates. Please note that ComEd does not charge customers for this notification. Message and data rates may apply.
ENHANCED PROTOCOLS FOR SERVICE RESTORATION
Following a storm event, weather emergency or other large scale electrical outage, ComEd’s restoration process begins immediately with damage assessment. This process enables the utility to determine the hardest hit areas and factors it into restoration times. The company then prioritizes outage restoration to ensure public safety first such as police and fire, then hospitals and other critical customers such as pumping stations and sewer lift stations. Through switching and repair of high voltage transmission lines and substations, ComEd restores service to the largest number of customers. The utility restores power to facilities that are critical to public health and safety – including hospitals, police and fire stations, water reclamation plants and communication systems. ComEd dispatches crews to make repairs to equipment that will return service to the largest number of customers in the least amount of time. These include major feeder trunk lines, high-density multi-family dwellings and large neighborhoods. Next, ComEd restores feeders, which allows the utility to return power to the largest number of customers at one time, followed by smaller service restorations and individual outages.
To better coordinate response and improve customer service during significant outage-related events, ComEd this year established seventeen (17) Joint Operations Centers throughout its service territory in northern Illinois. These centers enable ComEd and corresponding municipalities to operate from pre-designated locations in the vicinity of large-scale service interruptions to expedite restoration to public health, life and safety facilities.
ComEd can also deploy a new Mobile Operations Center (MOC) to help speed restoration efforts. The unit, which can house 25 ComEd engineers, dispatchers and other key storm response team members, comes fully equipped with the latest communications, satellite and video conferencing technology. The MOC brings ComEd closer to customers in times of severe weather and damage to the system and optimize restoration efforts, allowing ComEd to understand and respond to customer needs.
If you have an electric emergency, it is important to call ComEd immediately. Never e-mail an emergency request. If you need to report an emergency situation such as a fire, vehicle accident, electric contact/shock or other potential danger, please call 911 to notify local authorities.
Public safety is paramount during storms and ComEd encourages the residents, business owners and the general public to remember to take the following precautions:
- If you encounter a downed power line, immediately call ComEd at 1-800 EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661) or access ComEd’s website at www.comed.com to report the location. Spanish-speaking customers should call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237). Customers also can visit Twitter for restoration updates.
- Never approach a downed power line. Always assume a power line is energized and extremely dangerous.
- Check on elderly and other sensitive family members and neighbors to ensure their safety and make alternate arrangements, as it may be several hours to several days before power is restored.
HELPFUL HINTS DURING AN OUTAGE
ComEd also offers the following suggestions to customers who may experience a prolonged electricity outage:
- Turn off all appliances, including furnaces, water heaters and water pumps.
- Leave a lamp on so you know when power has been restored.
- Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed and open them only when necessary. Food can stay frozen for 36 – 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer, if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer can generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.
- Customers who are on medical support equipment are strongly encouraged to evacuate to a place where they can be comfortable and safe.
For additional details concerning ComEd’s new website, the other service enhancements describe herein, or electrical service restoration during power outages, please contact ComEd directly by calling 1-800-EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661).