Distribution automation: It's working quite nicely for ComEd


By: SGN Staff


ComEd is so pleased with the results of its distribution installations (DA) installations the utility plans to up its spending on the automated grid monitoring and control technology from $32 million in 2012 to more than $44 million this year.


ComEd told the Illinois Commerce Commission in a progress report that the installation of 470 DA devices cut the number of customer power outages by 82,000 last year. As part of its 10-year grid modernization program it will increase the number of customers protected by DA from 55 to almost 90%.


The smart grid technology allows utilities to route power around possible trouble spots, frequently with no noticeable service disruption for customers.


"Just as today's smart phone technology merged the power of computers with cellular phones, smart grid technology merges the power of computers with the electric grid," said Mike McMahan, VP of smart grid technology for ComEd.


He further explained "With distribution automation, if a tree were to fall on a utility pole resulting in an interruption, far fewer customers would be impacted because it enables us to better isolate the damaged section. DA introduces a self-healing capability to the electric grid by allowing us to resolve issues before customers might even be aware of them, and that has a profoundly positive impact on people's daily lives."


When the system is fully in place, DA and smart meters will communicate with the utility's operations center to send an outage alert, so customers served by the system won't need to call to report it. And the smart meters will alert the utility as soon as power is back on.


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