Power Outages reported in Comed region. What happens next?

Comed is reporting some outages to Chicago area towns and villages due to high winds this Sunday evening (11/11/2012). It is reported that about 24,000 customers are currently without power. The hope is that power is restored to these areas before the cold front that is expected to kick in tomorrow/Monday.

So what process does the utility follow to ensure that consumers receive electricity promptly after an outage? The requirement, due to the antiquated utility grid, is that consumers must report the outage. Once outages are reported the crews then kick in and go through the following steps.

  1. First the MAIN Priority is the safety of people and the crew. The utility makes certain that all hazards like damaged or partially damaged poles, uprooted trees and the like are cleared away.
  2. Second step is to investigate the cause of the outage. In this case the obvious reason will be the high winds. This does not mean that an investigation will not be carried out.
  3. The third step is the assessment of the damage to enable the crew to determine what equipment, resources and timeframe will be required to bring back electricity to all consumers. At this point the utility provides an estimate of the time it will require to get electricity back to the consumers. The estimate tends to be the time required to restore service to the last consumer. At this point the parts or equipment required is also determined. Where equipment, crew and resources are available work continues but the more severe the damage is the less likely full repair can be completed until required parts are procured.
  4. At this point repairs are then started. Power is first restored to key service providers like health (hospitals), safety (fire and police stations) and welfare providers (old people’s homes), these are vital. Equipment repair follows the order of i) High Voltage transmission lines (they supply electricity) ii) Substations are repaired next and then iii) Distribution lines (the ones that bring the electricity to our homes) come next. The distribution lines tend to have multiple damage locations in the case of heavy storm damage
  5. Note: repairs follow the order of returning power by repairing facilities for the largest number of consumers first, then the facilities that return power to the next largest number of consumers and on till all power is restored.

You can view the outage areas through this Comed interactive map.


Hoping consumers get their power back shortly.

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