ComEd (Chicago, Illinois) has restored service to 630,000 customers affected by outages from the devastating thunderstorms that hit northern Illinois last Thursday evening. At the peak, 310,000 customers were without service at one time. ComEd had restored 90 percent of the customers affected within the first 48 hours.
This series of storms were the most severe to hit ComEd since a March 1998 ice storm that affected 865,000 customers. Heavy thunderstorms -- with high winds of up to 80 miles per hour and intense lightning -- broke poles, downed and snapped wires and toppled trees onto ComEd equipment. Some areas of the service territory received three or more inches of rain per hour, causing flooding that slowed the restoration effort. Utility crews had to clear trees from wires, replace poles and transformers and string miles of new power lines before electricity could be fully restored.
The bulk of the damage occurred in Chicago's north and northwest suburbs, with Glenview, Wilmette, Northfield, Des Plaines, Elmhurst and Lombard among the hardest hit. Chicago and the south suburbs also were affected.
"ComEd used every resource at our disposal to restore service to our customers as safely and quickly as possible," said Barry Mitchell, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. "I am extremely proud of the speed and efficiency with which our ComEd crews -- as well as out-of-state and contractor crews -- completed this mammoth restoration effort."
Nearly 1,000 crews worked multiple 16-hour shifts (16 hours on, eight hours off) throughout the five-day storm restoration process. Crews from utilities in six states -- Missouri, Michigan, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania -- joined ComEd crews in the field to speed the restoration.
ComEd customer service representatives also worked around the clock, handling about 420,000 calls since the storm began. Even now, ComEd's emergency operations centers remain open and fully staffed to ensure any problems are addressed immediately.
"We recognize the inconvenience customers experienced due to power outages, especially those who suffered multi-day outages, and we thank our customers for their understanding and patience," Mitchell said. "Our dedication to bringing the lights back on has meant that thousands of ComEd employees have been away from their families for an extended period of time. It's especially gratifying that many of our customers have expressed their appreciation to our work crews in the field and to our employees in the Call Center."