BRIDGEPORT — Starting this month, work crews from ComEd will install "smart meters" in neighborhood homes and businesses.
The electronic devices use a wireless link with ComEd to provide customers hourly data on energy usage, alert ComEd when outages occur and help identify the cause of outages so power can be restored faster.
The utility said it plans to install 4 million smart meters in northern Illinois, and the initiative will reduce power outages by 700,000 a year while saving customers about $100 million in outage-related costs.
ComEd says customers will be notified by mail before the installations, which will be carried out by “uniformed ComEd meter installers with appropriate identification.”
Installation should take 10 minutes and there is no charge.
"It's a pretty low-impact process. Unless your meter is inside the house, we never have to come inside," said ComEd spokesman John Schoen.
According to this ComEd chart, about 1,000 smart meters will be installed in the 11th Ward throughout March. Work in the nearby 12th Ward, encompassing parts of McKinley Park, Brighton Park and Little Village, is already underway.
The project is part of the utility company's upgrading of its existing power grid into the so-called "smart grid" designed to merge computer technology with the electric infrastructure that provides power to millions of homes.
Since 2012, crews have been paving the way for the overhaul, including refurbishing manholes, replacing miles of underground cable and installing distribution automation devices on power poles, which automatically isolate power problems and reroute power to restore energy.
"We're almost halfway through putting in smart grid technology in the system," Schoen said.