Innovative Utility Partnerships Making Underground Electrical Grid Stronger and Safer

Duquesne Light Company, ComEd and Pacific Gas and Electric identifying unique ways to enhance underground infrastructure and improve worker and public safety

July 27, 2022

PITTSBURGH Duquesne Light Company (DLC) today announced that Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) — an Exelon Corporation unit — and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) have joined the first phase of its public crowdsourcing innovation challenge — “Monitoring Electrical Cable Challenge: The Future of Underground Inspection” — which focuses on creating a more reliable and safer underground electric network in the Pittsburgh region. ComEd and PG&E are collaborating with DLC in two areas: guiding the challenge finalists on solution testing and evaluating the phase one results. The winning solution is expected to strengthen the underground electrical grid and improve worker and public safety in DLC’s service territory across southwestern Pennsylvania, with the potential for further implementation in ComEd’s and PG&E’s networks.

With a total prize of $750,000, the challenge was shared with entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, students and more and drew submissions from around the world.

“When we launched this challenge, our goal was to find solutions that were diverse and ‘outside the box.’ We were fortunate to receive submissions representing various innovative approaches to solving this important issue,” said Josh Gould, director of innovation at DLC. “We also realize this challenge isn’t unique to DLC, which makes our collaboration with ComEd and PG&E even more valuable. In addition to diverse solutions, we’re seeking diverse viewpoints on how best to test, evaluate and implement those solutions. We’re beyond honored to have their support and expertise in this effort.”

“This collaboration with DLC and other participating organizations has proven to be a great opportunity to foster solutions for underground cable monitoring,” said Aleksandar Vukojevic, senior manager of smart grid and innovation at ComEd. “ComEd serves over 4 million customers in northern Illinois, including the city of Chicago. We believe the results of this challenge will help ensure worker safety and enhance service reliability. Adopting a robust cable monitoring system will considerably improve preventive maintenance schedules and quality of service.”

“PG&E is excited to participate in the initial phase of DLC’s ‘Monitoring Electrical Cable Challenge,’” added Ian Burnside, grid innovation engineer at PG&E. “Through collaboration with DLC and ComEd, we hope to foster innovation to improve public and utility worker safety here in California and across the utility industry.”

Investing in Innovation and Infrastructure

In partnership with HeroX, a leading crowdsourcing platform, DLC launched the “Monitoring Electrical Cable Challenge” in December 2021. With hundreds of millions of miles of underground electrical cables worldwide, the need to maintain and look after this critical infrastructure is essential to everyday life and economic growth, especially in cities and other densely populated areas where these cables are typically located.

“This challenge is another way that DLC is investing in innovation and critical infrastructure to ensure the continued delivery of safe, reliable and resilient service to our customers,” added Gould. “As underground cables age, it becomes even more important to monitor them to ensure their effectiveness and maintain a safe environment for workers and the public. We were impressed by the submissions we received and look forward to the next step in the process.

The final five solutions will be tested and judged through the end of the year. A pilot deployment on a utility network is expected to take place in early 2023, with the winner being announced that fall.

Learn more about the challenge at


About Commonwealth Edison Company

ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in northern and central California. For more information, visit and


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About Duquesne Light Company

For more than 100 years, Duquesne Light Company has provided safe and reliable electric service to communities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Today, our core values of safety, integrity, dependability, equity and community enable us to serve more than 600,000 customers in two counties, including the city of Pittsburgh. We are committed to safely powering our customers’ lives while playing a leading role in our region’s clean energy transition. Our vision is to create a larger-than-light, clean energy future for all by delivering exceptional results today and boldly harnessing opportunities for tomorrow. In doing so, we can ensure a cleaner, healthier and more equitable community for generations to come.


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