EDITOR'S NOTE: Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO, recently co-chaired The Energy Times executive conference, Empowering Customers & Cities. This is the last of a series based on her opening keynote address.
A key element in our vision of Chicago’s new energy order is the neighborhood.
As the digital revolution drives global networks, so in parallel it drives modularism and community.
This, after all, is the age of the smart phone and the internet, the foundational digital tools that put a highly personalized world at our disposal, connect us to anyone or everyone, and anything and everything, allowing both global and modular activity simultaneously, and which facilitate the creation of endless communities.
How are we experimenting with neighborhoods?
I’ll describe for you a project that plays a unique role in our new ecosystem – the project is our Bronzeville Microgrid and its role, in addition to testing technology, is to explore consumer engagement and empowerment in this revolutionary world.
To be located in the Bronzeville Community on Chicago’s South Side, this Microgrid will feature solar generation, battery storage, a community dashboard for neighborhood engagement and many other smart features. Situated next door to the existing Illinois Institute of Technology Microgrid, Bronzeville will connect the two microgrids with a ComEd designed controller to become host to the first Microgrid cluster in the world.
In Bronzeville, we are participating in a community – strengthening pilot with a very exciting local company called Innova EV to explore a pilot car- and ride-sharing program featuring electric vehicles. It will enable people to bridge the “last mile-first mile” gap that exists when riders find it hard to get to the nearest transit route from their departure point or when they arrive at their destination.
With Bronzeville though, it’s as much about the neighborhood as it is about the technology. In every industrial revolution, it is the social change brought by the technical change that is the real story.
What Bronzeville will explore is whether the introduction of technology can help revitalize a neighborhood – can spur innovation through connections to energy startups, can drive to “clean” through energy and transportation pilots, can help develop a workforce of the future by helping Chicago evolve its workforce – from steel workers to STEM workers, by connecting students to a living STEM project in their back yard, by offering programs like Solar Spotlight and finally can empower a community to participate as active members of the platform.