Of all the manifestations of earth-friendly technology, solar panels are arguably the most frequently spotted. Their relative ease of use and installation often allows them to be fitted into pre-existing structures. Yet ComEd, a utility company based in Chicago, Illinois, feels solar panels are not yet prolific enough, especially in metropolises such as the Windy City.
To remedy that, the utility company has launched a 12-month solar energy initiative to equip 100 Chicago-area homes with solar panels, among other green technologies. According to The Green Optimistic, “at least 50 of those with battery backup, ’smart’ meters, net metering and a grid-tied status that enables them to send unused electric energy from their solar energy systems back to the grid.” Val Jensen, ComEd Environmental and Marketing Vice President, states that the program’s goal is to educate those involved on how plan electrical usage to avoid peak loading, as well as other techniques such as reducing reliance on expensive utility upgrades, thereby reducing their energy bills.
Clean Technica reports that ComEd’s program will also offer one of six energy rates to participants, each of which varies depending on usage, peak and non-peak periods, and more. Funding for the project is being offered by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009; ComEd itself is supplying an additional three million. After testing, ComEd hopes to spread the smart grid to more than 131,000 homes.