Both Connecticut’s United Illuminating and Illinois’ Commonwealth Edison have filed applications to receive stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to accelerate their smart grid plans. Applying for $37.5 million and $175 million, respectively, the utility companies are hoping to match funds they have already raised for project-based development.
United Illuminating, based in New Haven, Conn., says it would use the money to install communication infrastructure to more easily monitor and manage its electrical grid across the network. The project, which will require installing new equipment in residential and commercial areas, as well as at substations and power plants, is slated to cost $75 million total and take a little less than three years to complete. From the description, it’s likely that advanced smart meters will be a main component of the shift, allowing energy consumers to view relevant data that could encourage conservation. United Illuminating says the new technology will also allow it to view almost immediately when and why outages take place, saving it maintenance costs and improving service.
Commonwealth Edison, which covers northern Illinois and serves 70 percent of the state’s population, says it would use the matching funds to roll out 141,000 new smart meters in Chicago and 11 suburban areas surrounding the city, according to VentureWire. The utility says that this project would generate 3,800 new jobs in the local area and cut down the number of grid outages and disruptions a year by up to 400,000. As part of the smart meter deployment, the utility would also install monitors in people’s homes that would communicate energy use and costs and even allow them to control their consumption from remote locations. This is a pretty advanced strategy for a utility, most of which are focused primarily on nailing down smart meters, not the end-user interface. It is partnering with General Electric and Silver Spring Networks in this effort.
This is the second application ComEd has recently filed with the DOE. It is also asking for funds for research on the integration of solar power with storage systems and smart meter networks.