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ComEd outlines specifics of 10-year smart grid plan

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Northern Illinois has been buzzing with excitement over Commonwealth Edison's proposed plan to modernize the area's electric grid, which includes digitizing existing infrastructure and replacing miles of power lines and utility poles, Transmission and Distribution World reports.

According to the media outlet, ComEd will begin its digital transformation phase of the project by introducing advanced smart grid technologies that are said to be able to improve overall system reliability and performance. Several of the smart grid investments, which total $94 million, will allow for the installation of advanced meters in homes and businesses that will be installed by the fourth quarter of 2012.

The utility says it expects to install 130,000 meters in the first year, and will install an average of 440,000 meters every year until the program has been completed.

Other smart grid improvements in 2012 include a distribution automation program, in which ComEd says it will invest heavily to expedite the pace of installing devices that can remotely transmit and relay control functions and provide system updates. Other computer systems will be installed that will control, operate, monitor and store electrical distribution data.

The money will also be spent to upgrade 10 substations that will be outfitted with microprocessor relays that are said to improve the automated monitoring of the processes of the substation. The enhancements will result in more reliability and lower expenses associated with power delivery, the news provider stated.

The plan also calls for new training facilities to be built, where employees and new hires will receive advanced training in the skills they will need to perform complex work on the new grid, such as the installation and operation of the new technologies that will be installed on the system.

In order to comply with Illinois law, ComEd has created a smart grid "test bed" that will allow emerging tech companies to try out a wide range of smart grid equipment, services, technologies and business models. Dubbed its "Innovation Corridor," ComEd says the test bed was originally created in 2010 as a laboratory for analyzing new technologies and approaches to managing electricity. At the facility, ComEd tested its first intelligent substation, distribution automation technology and electric car charging stations.

SUBNET Solutions Inc. offers expert advice and guidance on installing such smart grid technologies, and helps utilities ensure their new projects comply with stringent standards that have been established by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

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