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ComEd prepares for major smart grid development

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, January 05, 2012

On Wednesday, January 4, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore together announced that the promised upgrade to the city's electrical system will begin in 2012, and will likely create about 2,400 jobs for the city.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the two made the statements at a news conference at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and stated that up to 400 of the jobs created will include ComEd workers, contractors, manufacturers and suppliers of select materials and equipment.

The promise for improvements came as a result of new state legislation, which will allow ComEd to invest $2.6 billion in a new smart grid. The improvements will include a newly designed smart grid platform that will need to be reviewed by a regulator.

ComEd announced it will also soon decide which company it will choose to manufacture smart meters, which will start being installed in the fourth quarter of 2012. On January 6, the utility will submit its 10-year investment program to the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Part of the plan involves a $22 million venture fund that will be created by ComEd and Ameren, which will provide funding for early-stage entrepreneurial activity in Illinois.

Commonwealth Edison, a part of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., has about 3.8 million customers in northern Illinois, or about 70 percent of the population of the state. Of the $2.6 billion that will be invested in the next decade, roughly 50 percent will be used to upgrade the current electric system, which entails replacing thousands of miles of cable and upgrading substations and other equipment.

The other half will be spent on smart devices, such as substation automation and other automated features, smart meters and other smart grid technologies.

According to Renew Grid Magazine, the project will also present new opportunities for renewable energy projects to flourish, and will allow current sustainability initiatives to expand.

"Mayor Emanuel is leading Chicago away from the dirty energy sources of the past to a brighter future, and the smart grid will help Chicagoans breathe cleaner air and provide new job opportunities in the new energy economy," said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club's Illinois chapter.

SUBNET Solutions Inc. can offer utilities entering into the smart grid expertise in substation automation, and helps companies comply with critical infrastructure protection standards established by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

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