The Edison Electric Institute today honored ComEd with the association's "Emergency Recovery Award" for outstanding efforts to restore power following last year's multi-front storm system that resulted in the worst damage to ComEd's electrical system in a decade.
On Aug. 23 and 24, 2007, a combination of major flooding, 80,000 lightning strikes and winds up to 100 miles per hour left 634,000 customers without power. Six counties were declared federal disaster areas, but the utility re-established service to all customers within five days, including restoring 75 percent of those affected within one day and 90 percent within 48 hours.
"This national award is further recognition of the remarkable job performed by ComEd employees to get our customers back in service as safely and quickly as possible," ComEd President and Chief Operating Officer J. Barry Mitchell said. "Our employees demonstrate this commitment to our customers every day, but never was that dedication more visible than in the destructive wake of the August storms."
The recovery effort involved the deployment of 4,100 frontline employees, including 1,100 from other utilities. The ComEd Call Center also managed more than 419,000 customer inquiries during the five-day restoration.
The August storms were the most severe weather event to strike ComEd since an ice storm interrupted service to 865,000 customers in March 1998. During the August event, nearly all communities in ComEd's northern Illinois service territory were affected, but the hardest hit areas included Chicago's northern suburbs. During the restoration, crews repaired or replaced:
- 109 miles of wire and cable during the initial restoration, which is equivalent in length to the distance between Chicago and Milwaukee
- 416 poles, which end-to-end would extend 2.5 miles, or 20 city blocks
- 513 transformers
In bestowing the award, EEI President Thomas R. Kuhn said, "ComEd employed well-developed emergency preparedness plans and a sound recovery structure in the face of a devastating storm to restore electricity for its customers. The company's outstanding response is a testament to the ever-improving performance of our industry during major electricity restoration efforts."
Mitchell noted that in response to the August storms, ComEd personnel worked around the clock, including 16-hour shifts by field crews. Also assisting were about 275 crews provided by other utilities and contractors from as far away as Texas and Pennsylvania. This included First Energy of Akron, Ohio, which also won an EEI award for the mutual assistance it lent ComEd during the August storms.
EEI's "Emergency Recovery Award" annually recognizes outstanding efforts in restoring electric service disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events. Following an international nomination process, winners are chosen by a panel of judges. EEI is the association of United States investor-owned electric utilities and industry affiliates and associates worldwide. Its U.S. members serve about 70 percent of the nation's electrical consumers.