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July 2013 Policy Study, Number 13-5


Electricity – Make It, Use It – 24/7/365

Review of Electrical Grid Issues


Example of Outage Issues in Illinois



The Illinois Commerce Commission recently ruled that Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) must pay consumers and businesses for losses caused by “prolonged, widespread power outages.”[17] The decision is expected to cost the utility $35 million in claims for one storm alone.


This happened because a July 2011 thunderstorm caused almost 34,600 prolonged outages, with 500,000 customers without electricity for four or more hours.


Though a law has been in place for 16 years requiring the company to pay customers for damages resulting from “extreme” outages that were viewed as preventable, few claims have ever been paid. In the case of the July 2011 storm, only 4,385 claims were originally submitted, and only 12 were paid.


This was viewed as an egregious response by the Illinois Commerce Commission, which noted that between 2003 and 2010 there were 26 days in which 30,000 or more customers were without power for four hours or more (the definition of an extreme outage), and that none of these customers were ever reimbursed for their losses. The company will request a re-hearing of the case.




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