Chicago prepares for heatwave


With forecasts for the longest stretch of consecutive days in the upper 90s (32 – 38 degrees C) since 2012, ComEd is preparing for an increase in demand by increasing crew staffing, proactively opening its Emergency Operations Center and readying equipment to respond quickly if power outages occur. 

ComEd’s smart grid improvements have resulted in improved reliability for customers year-round, including during extreme weather.

Read: ComEd customers save $4 billion thanks to efficiency programme ComEd partners to power Bronzeville microgrid

Distribution automation that reroutes power around trouble spots has helped avoid more than 280,000 customer interruptions for families and businesses during 2019 winter storms.

ComEd programs incentivise customers to reduce energy use on days when demand is highest, and more than 301,000 customers are enrolled in ComEd’s Peak Time Savings programme, providing 36MW of demand response.

So far in 2019, two peak days have been called, offering those customers the opportunity to earn credits on their electric bills by reducing their power for several hours on those days. The programme saved customers $3.2 million in 2018 – and since the launch of the programme in 2015, has saved a total of $5.6 million.

In 1995, Chicago was hit by a heatwave which resulted in 739 heat-related deaths over a five day period. Most of those were elderly poor residents who could not afford airconditioning. The heatwave also heavily impacted the wider Midwestern region, with additional deaths in both St. Louis, Missouri and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This current heatwave, according to the Washington Post, will see “cities including Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Nashville and Kansas City, Missouri, “likely to experience three days of temperatures between 95 and 100 degrees (32 – 38 degrees C), along with high humidity. Excessive-heat watches are already in effect for all of Missouri as well as portions of Kansas, Illinois and Iowa, as heat indexes are forecast to range from 100 to 110 degrees (38-43 C) from Wednesday through Saturday.