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As a part of modernizing Chicago’s infrastructure, Mayor Emanuel joined ComEd to announce that the company will implement a $1.1 billion investment plan to build Smart Grid technologies and modernize Chicago’s electric system.
Why? Think about it: Chicago is building a modern, 21st century economy, but we’re powering it with a 20th century electrical grid.
We suffer power outages because a single snapped wire or fallen tree can knock out service to an entire region of customers. Not only do our appliances use too much electricity when we use them, they run up our bills even when they’re not turned on! And more and more, fast-growing, tech-savvy companies view SmartGird technology as a requirement when locating to a new city.
Starting this year, ComEd will begin to upgrade infrastructure, digitize the electrical grid, and install smart meter technology in every home, creating more than 2,400 jobs for Chicago in construction, engineering, IT, dispatching, and equipment distribution, including 350-400 jobs in the next year alone.
So what will that mean for you?
Well, because of the outdated system, today ComEd has to rely on customers to call in and complain before they knew where a power outage has occurred. Installing smart meters in homes and linking them to the Smart Grid will allow ComEd to immediately pinpoint any problem spot and reroute power around it while they repair the damage. Smart meters also provide home and business owners with the information they need to track their energy consumption in order to take control of their use and save money.
“We’re modernizing Chicago’s electric infrastructure and building a Smart Grid that will bring significant economic opportunity for the City, adding jobs and creating new facilities that will train Chicagoans to contribute to Chicago’s growing green economy and help Chicago families save money on electricity,” said Mayor Emanuel.
Additionally, ComEd will invest $22.5 million to start a first-of-its-kind, utility-funded Science and Energy Innovation Trust – to support entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative products, services and technologies that the smart grid will bring to life with early stage investments. The Trust is as a result of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), enacted by the Illinois General Assembly this past fall. And ComEd is partnering with local labor unions to build a training facility on the southwest side to ensure that workers have the skills they need to compete for the jobs being created through the plan.
Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, had this to say: “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.”