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updated: 3/8/2012 1:28 PM

ComEd outlines upgrade plans for suburbs

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Chicago-based ComEd, which has operations in Oak Brook, is expected to announce Thursday a $2.6 billion program to improve the electric grid in about 65 suburbs.

Some work has started, while other projects are planned throughout the year. It's the first year of a 10-year project to upgrade the system for the Smart Grid to accommodate more customers using more high-powered devices, ComEd officials said.

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It's also part of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, enacted last October.

"The investments are very aggressive to help improve service to customers," said ComEd Chief Operating Officer Terence Donnelly. "There's so much work going on that we feel we need to communicate this often."

ComEd said it plans to replace or add more than 455,000 feet of underground residential distribution cable, known in the industry as URD. This cable will either be injected to fill in voids in the insulation or replaced where necessary to reduce customer interruptions due to cable failures. The injection process includes new technology that extends the life of the cable and reduces failures, Donnelly said.

ComEd also will do other work to help reduce service interruptions, including lightning enhancements, install more than 80 distribution automation devices, replace nearly 8,900 feet of mainline cable, and conduct testing on five sections of cable. This cable will either be injected to fill in voids in the insulation or replaced where necessary, ComEd said.

Other work will include replacing or reinforcing utility poles; replacing or injecting more than 586,000 feet of URD cable; installing nearly 70 distribution automation devices, and tree trimming in more than 230 locations.

Here's a sampling of suburban projects:

Arlington Heights

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 8,900 feet of URD cable. Installing six distribution automation devices, replacing 20 feet of mainline cable and testing.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 18,900 feet of URD cable. Tree trimmings in four locations.

Des Plaines

First quarter of 2012: Replace over 270 feet of URD cable. Installing four distribution automation devices and testing.

Remainder of 2012: Replace about 560 feet of URD cable. Replace and reinforce utility poles in one location. Tree trimming in eight locations.

Elgin

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 680 feet of URD cable. Replace more than 2,700 feet of mainline cable.

Later in 2012: Replace about 30,400 feet of URD cable. Tree trimming in more than 20 locations.

Gurnee

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 150 feet of URD cable. Installing eight distribution automation devices.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 17,890 feet of URD cable. Tree trimming in more than 15 locations.

Hoffman Estates

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 19,320 feet of URD cable. Replacing more than 1,500 feet of mainline cable.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 18,000 feet of URD cable. Tree trimming.

Lombard

First quarter of 2012: Install lighting enhancement and one distribution automation device.

Remainder of 2012: Replace nearly 27,900 feet of URD cable. Tree trimming in 14 locations and installing three distribution automation devices.

Palatine

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 45,300 feet of URD cable. VLF testing in one section.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 49,600 feet of URD cable.

Schaumburg

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 46,900 feet of URD cable.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 38,400 feet of URD cable. Installing four distribution automation devices and tree trimming in eight locations.

Wheaton

First quarter of 2012: Replace nearly 11,400 feet of URD cable.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 14,050 feet of URD cable. Installing four distribution automation devices and tree trimming in 14 locations.

Wheeling

First quarter of 2012: Replace more than 3,250 feet of URD cable. Lightning enhancement and installing two distribution automation devices.

Remainder of 2012: Replace more than 50,600 feet of URD cable.

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