ComEd and municipal leaders from across ComEd’s service territory have announced a new collaboration to coordinate response and improve customer service during significant outage-related events by establishing Joint Operations Centers (JOC) in communities throughout the utility’s service territory.
At the announcement, ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore said, “Working together with our municipal partners is something we do every day. What makes this initiative unique is that it establishes a process that enables ComEd and our municipal partners to operate from a pre-designated location within the community to expedite restoration to public health, life and safety facilities designated by the municipality.”
Working with regional councils of government and approximately 400 municipalities in its service territory, ComEd will establish up to 17 region-specific JOCs, temporary office locations that will be set up within hours of a significant service disruption. Pre-selected staff will collaborate with ComEd and municipal emergency response personnel to restore power to critical municipal facilities during major system events so that municipalities can get their communities up and running during these critical events. The JOCs will allow for close coordination during times when there are significant outages, and also will help coordinate priority restoration efforts to a pre-established list of public health, life, and safety facilities.
“After last summer’s severe storms brought widespread devastation and prolonged power outages to our communities, it was clear that we needed a better system to work with ComEd to ensure the timely restoration of critical facilities during a crisis situation,” said Christopher S. Canning, President of the Northwest Municipal Conference and President of the Village of Wilmette. “We see the JOC process as adding great value to the power restoration process. For the first time, municipal representatives will have a streamlined system for working side by side with ComEd to get our communities up and running. As a municipal leader, I applaud ComEd for partnering with our communities to develop this important initiative.”
Public health and safety facilities have always been, and will remain, a priority for service restoration. However, priorities for individual municipalities can be amended as local conditions evolve, ensuring that a municipality’s unique profile is taken into consideration. Annual joint trainings with municipal representatives and ComEd will ensure a strong and familiar working relationship between both the utility and local communities.
Triggered once a set number of customers are without service for more than three hours, JOCs will streamline communications and coordination among municipalities and between municipalities and ComEd during severe weather or natural disasters. JOCs will be the hub of communications during an Area Outage Emergency (AOE) and will be staffed continuously by a ComEd representative and a municipal representative who will be in constant communication with each other and ComEd’s emergency operations organization.
“Staffed 24 hours a day by a ComEd restoration specialist and representatives from area municipalities until service to priority facilities is completely restored, JOCs will be nerve centers for local utility activity during service interruptions,” said Pramaggiore.
Each JOC’s work doesn’t end once service has been restored. Within 60 days of completing an outage restoration mission, ComEd and the municipality will conduct a complete evaluation and review. In addition, ComEd has planned several technology improvements to allow for quicker response times and improved customer service:
- A smart phone “app” to report service interruptions and pay bills online, available in the coming months.
- A newly acquired, $1 million state-of-the-art regional mobile command center. This command center can be deployed to the worst-hit areas in a storm, bringing ComEd closer to its customers in times of severe weather and damage to the system.
- A responsive text-messaging system to report outages and receive service updates.
- A revamp of the annual report summaries provided to municipalities.
“ComEd has embarked on this unprecedented initiative to serve both business and residential customers better,” said Pramaggiore. “Working together with local municipalities, customer service will be more responsive and specialized than ever before.”