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City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined GE, Silver Spring Networks and ComEd today at a GE manufacturing facility on the south side of Chicago to announce new Smart Grid contracts that will bring millions of dollars of investment and new jobs to Chicago. GE announced today that it would manufacture smart meters on the city of Chicago’s south side, and that it would seek to hire local residents to build these meters.
Additionally, ComEd laid out the general schedule for installation of smart meters throughout the city of Chicago. The city’s south side will start to receive the new meters in 2014 and will have the network fully in place by 2016; at that point the north side will begin to receive the meters and will have them by 2018. By 2018, each of the city’s 1.3 million homes or businesses is expected to have a smart meter.
“Chicago’s new Smart Grid is substantially increasing economic opportunity for the City, by adding both manufacturing and professional jobs, opening new offices and facilities, and helping Chicago residents conserve electricity and save money,” said Mayor Emanuel. “A modern, high-tech electric infrastructure is essential for Chicago’s global economic competitiveness.”
ComEd and GE are partnering on a $200 million contract for GE to manufacture and deliver approximately 4 million smart meters, which ComEd will install for all customers beginning this September through 2021. GE will assemble the smart meters in Chicago at a South Side factory, creating 50 jobs initially and potentially more as the timetable for implementation evolves. Smart meters provide timely data to electricity users about how much power they’re using, giving customers more control over their energy use.
Silver Spring Networks, which provides the technology platform for ComEd’s smart grid network, will also open a new facility in Chicago that will house dozens of new technology jobs and a next-generation network operations center to serve Smart Grid projects in Illinois and across the Midwest. That facility, which was announced by Mayor Emanuel in January 2013, is being implemented now and is currently being staffed.
“Our $2.6 billion Smart Grid investment will benefit Chicago—and all our customers—by strengthening the local economy, creating jobs, attracting new businesses to Chicago and giving more choice and control to our customers,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. "In 2012, we initiated programs to improve our grid by add new smart technology -- smart switches that reroute power in the event of outages and smart sensors that monitor critical equipment. We are excited to now launch our final and largest smart grid program -- smart meters -- and to begin to deliver the benefits they can bring to consumers"
“The Illinois Smart Grid program will provide ComEd's customers with the benefits of a modern grid and help GE grow its local workforce in Chicago,” said Mark Hura, general manager of sales in North America, GE Digital Energy. “This program allows us to be local with our customer by adding positions focused on the assembly of smart meters, a technology that offers a range of benefits to consumers such as shortened restoration time in the event of an outage. ComEd is a valued customer to GE, as demonstrated by our long standing relationship and our recent successful smart meter pilot program. We look forward to working with ComEd to make grid modernization a reality in Chicago, and all of ComEd's service territory."
“As the leading company delivering the technology and network solutions that implement the smart grid, Silver Spring Networks is proud to be among the companies that are investing in Chicago, creating jobs and boosting the local economy,” said Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO, Silver Spring Networks. “As we work with ComEd to begin full-scale deployment, we plan to open a new office in Chicago and establish a network operations center that will create dozens of new high-tech jobs.”
A smart meter is a digital electric meter that collects electricity usage information every 30 minutes and sends that information to ComEd through a wireless connection. Customers can get access to their individual usage data and electricity costs at any time, and make more informed decisions about how and when they use electricity. Additionally, when fully functional, smart meters will alert ComEd to power outages automatically—without requiring customers to contact ComEd—and help pinpoint the source of the problem so ComEd can restore power faster. Customers with smart meters also can take advantage of optional pricing programs that can allow customers to save money by voluntarily shifting electricity use to non-peak times. Smart meters also eliminate estimated bills and cut down on electricity theft, saving ComEd and customers money.
As part of its smart grid work, ComEd is participating in the creation of the Energy Foundry, an early-stage impact venture fund created to support game-changing grid and energy ideas, and to empower consumers to harness the benefits of the energy-tech revolution. Over 10 years, ComEd and Ameren will contribute $50 million to the Foundry ($5 million per year). During the lifetime of the Trust, outside public and private sources also may contribute resources. In partnership with the Energy Foundry, ComEd will each establish a smart grid test bed to serve as a venue for Trust participants, and others, to develop new smart grid technologies.
To bring more jobs to its workforce, ComEd is also piloting a new Construction Jobs Educational Pilot Program to provide candidates interested in construction fields with the training, information and guidance needed to compete for good-paying, entry-level jobs in construction-related fields. The program will be run in parallel at three sites across the Chicagoland area by Bethel New Life, Chicago Urban League, and the National Latino Education Institute. The pilot aims to provide 40 participants with career guidance, life skills training, and practical education about the construction industry, as well as the requirements for entering this industry. ComEd will work with the City Colleges of Chicago to ensure that the curriculum of City Colleges' College to Careers program is aligned with the sorts of training that will be useful for people who wish to work in Smart Grid-related jobs.
ComEd is investing $2.6 billion over 10 years in a modern grid that will reduce power outages and give customers more choice and control over their energy use. More than $1.3 billion of that investment is earmarked to build a Smart Grid network and install 4 million smart meters in all Northern Illinois homes and businesses. ComEd’s modernization efforts are designed to reduce outages by 700,000 per year, saving customers an estimated $100 million in outage-related costs.
GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com. Follow GE Energy Management and its Digital Energy business on Twitter @GE_EnergyMgmt and @YourSmartGrid.
About Silver Spring Networks
Silver Spring Networks is a leading networking platform and solutions provider for smart energy networks. Our pioneering IPv6 networking platform, with 16.5 million Silver Spring enabled devices delivered, is connecting utilities to homes and business throughout the world with the goal of achieving greater energy efficiency for the planet. Silver Spring’s innovative solutions enable utilities to gain operational efficiencies, improve grid reliability, and empower consumers to monitor and manage energy consumption. Silver Spring Networks is used by major utilities around the globe including Baltimore Gas & Electric, CitiPower & Powercor, Commonwealth Edison, CPS Energy, Florida Power & Light, Jemena Electricity Networks Limited, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pepco Holdings, Inc., Progress Energy, and Singapore Power, among others. To learn more, please visit www.silverspringnet.com.
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.