U.S. Department of Energy Earmarks $5 Million for ComEd Smart Grid Solar Pilot

Oct 13, 2009, 12:56 ET from ComEd

CHICAGO, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that ComEd could receive up to $5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for the utility's Smart Grid solar pilot. This one-year project would examine customer responses to pricing signals, the impact of renewable distributed energy system, and how they can best be integrated into a future Smart Grid system.

ComEd's solar pilot would include approximately 200 customers, most of whom would be among the first 140,000 ComEd customers to receive a new smart meter through ComEd's proposed Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) pilot, which currently is under consideration by the Illinois Commerce Commission. A smart meter is a digital electric meter that collects usage information every 30 minutes and sends that information to ComEd through a secure telecommunications connection.

A group of customers in the pilot would receive solar photovoltaic systems, some with energy storage capability, and be placed on a real-time electricity price and net metering program which lets customers get credit for excess electricity generated by their solar energy systems that goes back to ComEd's grid. Other customers in the pilot will receive only an energy monitoring display.

"ComEd's solar pilot will be a sophisticated study of how renewable distributed energy systems can be integrated into the power grid," said Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. "We are proud to be a pioneer in leveraging groundbreaking technologies and identifying ways to provide our customers a smarter and greener electric delivery system."

ComEd's Smart Grid solar pilot will:

  • Study how integration of photovoltaic panels and energy storage into AMI systems will affect reliability of the distribution system.
  • Observe and evaluate the way consumers engage with technology and respond to price signals during peak and non-peak demand times.
  • Assess customer attitudes toward adopting new and emerging technologies.

The estimated award to ComEd for the solar pilot is $5 million, but the final grant amount is pending negotiations between ComEd and the DOE on project details. Acceptance of the grant is also contingent on approval of ComEd's AMI pilot proposal.

Pending these approvals, the pilot would begin in early 2010. Four groups of customers will be selected from customers located within the AMI pilot footprint, which includes nine towns serviced by its Maywood operating center and the Humboldt Park area in Chicago. .

Partners on the ComEd pilot include the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, which will survey participants to assess attitudes toward adopting new/emerging technologies; Argonne National Lab for data gathering and analysis; and GridPoint for battery storage systems and photovoltaic and energy monitoring.

Grant funding would come from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), of which $117.6 million is allocated for disbursement by the DOE in support of innovative solar energy technology proposals.

Separate from this application, ComEd also applied for $175 million in ARRA federal stimulus funding to more than double the AMI pilot project and expand investment in other advanced automation technology to make the transmission and distribution systems "smarter" and more reliable.

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), one of the nation's largest electric utilities with approximately 5.4 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.