EDITOR’S NOTE: Chicago is in the vanguard of cities being transformed by the electric power revolution, a topic of the conference, Empowering Customers & Cities, November 4-6.
This is the last of a two-part series.
ComEd, like many utilities, is working very hard to create the most effective model for the 21st century energy company. At the same time, we’re focused on establishing new energy policy that will enable ComEd customers to realize the full range of benefits that smart grid technology makes possible.
With this goal in mind, we went back to our state capital this past spring to introduce our Future Energy Plan and its provisions provide solutions that will benefit customers today; the plan also begins to lay the groundwork needed to support a more open platform that will accommodate the growing range of customer products and services from DER to power management services, data management and other emerging technologies.
The plan provides immediate value to customers and to Illinois, in terms of a clean energy future, consumer choice, grid resilience, and economic development.
The impacts of the plan on energy savings and a clean energy future are clear. The plan increases energy efficiency spending, delivers the energy and cost savings of voltage optimization, makes solar energy more accessible to lower-income customers, provides for the electrification and so greening of the transportation sector, and changes rate designs to allow for the fair, sustainable expansion of renewable energy options.
The legislation puts more power in the hands of customers, in terms of their choice and control. By increasing access to solar and providing electric vehicle charging stations, the plan provides clean energy choices and to a broader group of customers.
In a time of more volatile weather and security concerns, the plan also provides immediate increased grid resiliency where it matters most – to critical public infrastructure – through the development of six pilot microgrid sites.
The plan also proposes a shift to a demand-based rate structure for delivery service to allow for new uses of the grid while ensuring that related costs are borne by those who benefit from services.
Also enabled by smart meters, demand-based rates make it possible for residential customers to more easily monitor and reduce both their demand on the system and energy consumption – just as commercial and industrial customers have been able to do for decades.
The plan creates near- and long-term economic development, positioning Illinois as a leader in innovation and clean infrastructure and thus making Illinois more attractive for businesses and a place residents want to live.
As you can see, we have a lot on our plate. There are many challenges as well as many opportunities facing utilities today.
Kevin Brookins is ComEd senior vice president, Strategy & Administration.
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