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Utilities' Best Practices Conference hosted by ComEd

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, September 26, 2011

In an effort to enhance its storm restoration process, ComEd hosted a best practices round table discussion on September 22 and 23, to learn from other utilities how to best manage power outages and events caused by severe weather. The conference took place in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Members of the conference spoke on crew mobilization and dispatching, damage assessment, the use of staff and resources, varying philosophies of prioritization and communications, which included how quickly power could be restored.

Representatives from PECO, Duke Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric, NSTAR Progress Energy, Alabama Power and We Energies attended the event.

ComEd used the conference to solicit feedback from the nation's top utilities, but the company has also made many enhancements to its internal processes to improve its response to blackouts and other damages.

The utility is working to improve overall restoration by developing new damage assessment protocol, which will determine where and when the company's resources are needed the most. By capitalizing on regional efficiencies and improving coordination with cities, as well as identifying a community's restoration priorities and pocket reliability worries, ComEd hopes to build a more community-based angle to prioritizing what areas need repairs.

This summer, record-breaking weather proved to be the most damaging in the electric utility's history. ComEd has said it is working to learn from the 2 million customers who were affected and the nearly $120 million in damage that resulted from the storms.

But several solutions are available for power restoration after a storm.

After Hurricane Irene, 6 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia were left without power, according to Reuters. In the aftermath, many utilities began discussing how significantly a smart grid, specifically back-up power sources, could have helped expedite the restoration effort.

Len Pettis, chief of energy and utility operations in California State University's Chancellor's office, says the technology is there, it just needs to be implemented properly.

"Our college campus network could integrate excess capacity and islanding functions and solve many of the problems linked with integration of new renewables for the next two decades," he stated, adding that it just isn't being used.

SUBNET is one company that currently works to enhance utilities' reliability through smart grid integration and substation automation.  

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