When we write about smart grids here at EarthTechling we often reference individual projects underway in different cities. ComEd, a utility out of Chicago, is changing the definition for us however by launching what it calls a Smart Grid Innovation Corridor consisting of related smart grid style projects in neighboring Illinois communities.
The so-called ComEd Smart Grid Innovation Corridor, according to the utility, is said to be one of the largest collections of smart grid pilot projects in the country. It encompasses the 10 communities of Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Oak Park, River Forest and the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago. Five types of projects exist in this corridor, including residential solar power, the company’s first intelligent substation, distribution automation and electric vehicle charging stations.
ComEd said these pilot projects build upon the over 130,000 smart meters installed within the corridor. Of particular note among the projects is the solar power one, which is said to be a three-year project “partially funded by a $5 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. It will examine the customer benefits of residential solar generation, hourly pricing signals, the ability to sell back unused solar electricity and the impact of changes in customer load on the ComEd grid.” One hundred homeowners will be selected to receive free rooftop solar panels and other equipment, free installation and Web access to monitor their electricity generation and consumption.
“Our innovation corridor is unlike any in the U.S.,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer, ComEd, in a statement. “It allows us to study a variety of advanced Smart Grid technologies individually and in relation to each other. Through this deliberate approach, we will learn the best and most cost-effective way to deliver value to our customers, help them manage their bills, and improve system reliability.”