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ComEd signs MoU to develop energy efficiency programmes

Steve Rogerson
May 9, 2017
 
ComEd and Chicago’s Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the study and development of energy efficiency programmes, smart streetlights, and community and residential solar and other infrastructure projects.
 
The MoU provides for a one-of-a-kind collaboration between ComEd and the MMC to develop a pilot for a national model on how utilities and municipalities can work together to create greener, more resilient and sustainable communities.
 
The announcement follows a green light from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) last month that established “smart” as the new standard for all streetlights that ComEd owns in northern Illinois. The standard is expected to accelerate the deployment of smart LED street lighting service that will leverage the wireless communications network used by ComEd’s smart grid platform that allows for two-way communications between the utility and its customers.
 
“ComEd and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus are working to enhance the liveability and sustainability of the communities we serve,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd. “We’re nearing the completion of the smart grid modernisation programme, which is producing record reliability for our customers, and we’re eager to begin leveraging the strength of this modern digital platform. We will work together to inform cities and towns about the benefits of smart streetlights, solar power and other technologies.”
 
She said the utility would also help municipalities that owned their own streetlights to identify ways to fund the conversion to smart LED lights.
 
“We hope the lessons learned from this collaboration can be replicated across the entire ComEd service territory, Illinois and the nation,” she said.
 
This initiative will also get a boost from the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law last year. It goes into effect in June and will increase funding for energy efficiency from $250m to $400m annually by 2030. These funds create savings opportunities for all customer classes, including municipalities, supporting the development of energy efficiency programmes as well as the conversion of current municipal lighting systems to smart LED streetlights.
 
For the past six years, MMC has served as administrator of energy efficiency programmes for the public sector through a programme formally managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The ICC recently granted a petition proposed by ComEd and the DCEO that will allow ComEd to assume responsibility for the programme.
 
“We’ve had considerable success working with Illinois utilities to create energy savings for our member communities, and we expect to expand on this record by working more directly with them,” said Robert Nunamaker, executive board chairman of MMC. “Mayors throughout the region are very well aware of the importance of energy infrastructure. We understand what ComEd has done through the development of the smart grid programme and we want to work with them to build on this smart foundation for the benefit of our entire region.”
 
Preliminary discussions between ComEd and the MMC have been focused on developing projects to convert existing streetlights to more efficient LEDs, which consume as little as one-third of the energy and last up to one and a half times as long as the fixtures they replace. In 2015, ComEd launched smart streetlight pilot projects in Bensenville and Lombard. Learning from these pilots, ComEd is developing plans to replace all 140,000 ComEd-owned municipal streetlights with LED streetlights beginning later this year.
 
One of the first programmes the MMC will manage for ComEd under the MoU is a series of workshops with the South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association in south Cook County to help municipalities identify potential projects they’d like to pursue.
 
Connecting smart streetlights to the ComEd smart grid allows communities to dim lights remotely and instantaneously for energy savings and brighten them for greater safety. They can also be controlled on-demand by first responders to manage emergency situations better.
 
Smart streetlights can also serve as a backbone for sensor-based, smart city features that allow for a broad range of services, from intelligent waste management to air quality monitoring, snow removal monitoring and traffic management.
 
Founded in 1997, the MMC is a membership organisation of the Chicago region’s 275 cities, towns and villages. ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon and provides service to about 3.9 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 per cent of the state’s population.