Employee-Inspired Invention Places ComEd on Top 100 Finalists List for 14th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards

Patent-pending safety device protects electric utility workers from potential dangers. Out of 535 nominees ComEd, the largest utility in Illinois, has been selected as one of the Top 100 Finalists in the running for the 14th annual Chicago Innovation Awards. The awards celebrate the most innovative new products and services in the Chicago region across all organization sizes, sectors and industries. On October 27, more than 1,500 business and civic leaders will come together at the Chicago Harris Theater to honor the winners of the prestigious innovation awards. The innovation nominated by ComEd is the manhole flash shield. Designed and developed by ComEd employees, this innovative, patent-pending safety device prevents exposure to dangerous underground arc flash occurrences, which can happen when an electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to the ground. ComEd’s flash shield protects manhole repair crews, while also shielding the underground electrical cable from damage by falling debris. With approximately 32,000 manholes on ComEd’s system, the Company is very focused on manhole safety. In addition to the new innovative device, ComEd has previously implemented several enhancements and tools to reduce the risks related to work in manholes. Most recently arc flash testing was conducted to learn more about various arc hazards and determine additional means of protection for employees from underground incidents. “ComEd’s culture is based on safety and innovation. The safety of our employees, customers and communities is paramount, every single day, in everything we do. The need to innovate and develop solutions that bring valued improvements for our employees and customers are also vital elements of our business,” said Terence R. Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer for ComEd. “We are excited to receive this prestigious recognition, which embodies our culture, and we are so proud of our employees who care about what they do and are committed to making improvements that make life better for their co-workers and our customers.” “Chicago is in the midst of a monumental upsurge in innovation,” said Tom Kuczmarski, cofounder with Chicago journalist Dan Miller of the awards. “It’s inspiring to see the range of vision and the depth of talent among organizations in the Chicago area. Companies are investing in innovation and taking more risks to launch new ventures and uncover new value.” ComEd is investing $2.6 billion to upgrade its electrical delivery system. Enacted into law by the Illinois General Assembly in 2011, the Smart Grid program is helping to modernize a 100-year old system and bring on new technologies that provide customers and businesses with greater power reliability, more easy-to-use technologies and clean energy options. “As we work to modernize our electric grid, we are exploring new technologies and being innovative in our approach to developing solutions for our customers and the electrical system,” said Donnelly. As one of the Top 100 Finalists, the two ComEd employees who invented the manhole flash shield received a $2,500 scholarship to attend The Practical Innovator, a day-long executive education course on September 28th led by top faculty who teach innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The public is also invited to vote for their favorite innovation idea through the “People’s Choice Award,” an online balloting process, which concluded on Tuesday, October 13th. Out of the Top 100 Finalists, the judges will select 10 winners of the Chicago Innovation Awards, as well as 10 winners of the Up-and-Comer Awards representing innovation in the startup community, the Social Innovator Award and the Collaboration Award. The winners will be invited to ring the NASDAQ Bell in New York City, invited to separate meetings with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Bruce Rauner and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, and receive widespread media recognition.