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ComEd Says Company is Working on Better Communication During Outages

Kathleen Maier, external affairs manager for Commonwealth Edison said the company is working on better communication and response to outages following a summer of severe storms.

Kathleen Maier, external relations manager for Commonwealth Edison, began her presentation to the La Grange village board at Monday night's meeting, by appealing to the community that she understood their frustration.

However, unlike at , no residents turned out to voice that frustration. 

Maier, who is also a La Grange resident, said that the storms in June and July this year, were some of the worst the company had ever seen. In particular, she said that the July 11 storm knocked out power to over 850,000 customers. High winds and lightning strikes contributed significantly to the widespread power loss.

Maier cited working from home and banking online as examples of how disrupting a power outage can be for residents, and said ComEd is looking into how to better serve residents in the future.

Smart Meters prove valuable 

Maier suggested Smart Meter technology as one tool that ComEd is developing to help them better identify and serve areas during a power outage. In addition to allowing customers to monitor their electricity usage online, Smart Meters also communicate with ComEd to let them know when the power has gone out.

According to the ComEd's website, the service is being tested in nine towns in its Maywood region, which La Grange is a part of. Unfortunately, La Grange is not yet included in the program. 

Click here for a Chicago Tribune article on the Smart Meter program.

Had the system been in place area-wide, 200,000 less customers would have been affected, Maier said.

Better communication for residents

Trustee Jeff Nowak said that the chief complaint he was hearing from residents was a lack of good communication with ComEd about how long the outages would last. 

"We don't have a good communication system with residents," Maier replied.

She said ComEd was working on providing better information to customers through their website. In the future, residents may be able to receive updates for their own town, instead of area-wide estimations. Currently, Maier said, the company primarily releases information to the village and media about the status of outages. 

Patrick Benjamin August 09, 2011 at 01:35 PM
You can sign up on Commonwealth Edison's website for text updates on your outage after you either call it in or report it on line. I received updates on two reported outages and found it useful.
michael hawkins August 09, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Had the system been in place area-wide, 200,000 less customers would have been affected, Maier said. Please someone inform this lady electricial meters monitor/read killawatts used, so they can bill customers. The distribution or grid is simply outdated throughout the LaGrange area. They, Com-Ed needs to upgrade this grid, but will not- to costly. Just the facts please. I'll keep in mind next time to check on-line for updates for my area,1st I better run to Home Depot and get a generator to start my computer, o h.d. is out of generators.. Com-Ed + electricty= LYING IDIOTS
Matthew Hendrickson August 09, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Hey Michael, maybe I can clear this up a bit. The Smart Grid would allow ComEd greater control over their overall grid, letting them re-route electricity and (when it's hot) cut back on your allotment when the grid is getting overwhelmed. The Smart Meters work with a Smart Grid. Both things are "in the pipeline" and we could see some action on it on the state level in September. However, as to will end up or should end up footing the bill for these upgrades, that's a matter of opinion which I will let all you readers come to your own conclusion on. As a note, there's some pretty interesting stuff written on this if you search it in Google.
Tim August 10, 2011 at 04:44 AM
Hi Pat. I rec'd no texts after signing up for a year now, BUT I have regularly used the 1-800-EDISON-1 phone number to both report my outages and to receive updates. I have registered both my mobile # and my home # with their phone system, and I rec'd accurate updates on the expected fixes which led me to saving my food with generators and extension cords from my neighbors who did have power. Without ComEd telling me on the phone that it would be so long, I might have waited. But ComEd accurately reported when my specific outage would be fixed, and I was able to take the right action. I'm a little suspicious about the texts until I actually receive one. lol
david vicik August 10, 2011 at 02:44 PM
During a power outage, most computers and modems don't work, and even if you have a laptop with wireless, you have to find a wifi hotspot that has power. Not all of us want to have to drive around during a storm to find out when the power might come back on. Then, if you do get online, you have to have passwords and an account set up to do anything. What is ComEd afraid of? Its users complaining about the lack of service? If they REALLY want to make the situation better, put up maps online showing where the power is out and estimated times of it coming back on and forget about logging in. Give us information we can use at a glance.

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