Statewide Emergency Exercise Preps Agencies for Severe Weather Event

June 16, 2015

In the face of increasingly severe and damaging weather across the country, ComEd, the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), Ameren Illinois and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will partner with more than 30 state, county, municipal and private entities for “Operation Power Play.” Operation Power Play will test how agencies would respond if a series of severe storms produced 28 tornadoes throughout Illinois on the same day.

“The recent devastating tornado in Fairdale reminds us that weather is becoming more severe and unpredictable, underscoring the need to better understand how we work together to restore critical services following an extreme weather event,” said Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd. “ComEd has already implemented more than 100 storm process enhancements made since 2012 to further improve storm restoration and recovery for our customers.”

While Operation Power Play will be held in multiple locations throughout Illinois, the primary site is Cook County’s new Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Michael Masters, executive director of the DHSEM says his agency’s partnership with agencies throughout the state is increasingly important. “We cannot wait for severe weather to begin the discussion about our response to and recovery from an incident,” said Masters. “We need to build these partnerships and run through multiple scenarios so we are adequately prepared to protect the residents in our jurisdictions.”

During the exercise, ComEd will coordinate a comprehensive, multi-agency response to storm-damaged areas with a number of partner agencies participating both onsite at the Cook County’s EOC – which can accommodate personnel from multiple municipalities and private sector partners - and remotely at locations all around the state. The exercise will kick off at 9 a.m. on June 19 with remarks from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Terence R. Donnelly, Ameren Illinois Director of Distribution Operating Rick Welton and Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Brien Sheahan. The Cook County EOC is located on the 340-acre Oak Forest Health Center campus, 15900 S. Cicero Ave., Oak Forest.

Following the exercise, participants will meet to review processes, discuss lessons learned and look for opportunities for improvement.