City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined GE, Silver Spring Networks and ComEd this month 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 that it will manufacture smart meters on the city of Chicago's south side, and that it will 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 approximately 50 jobs. 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 2012, 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 adding 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 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. The initial source of funding totaled $22.5 million and was provided by ComEd and Ameren. During the lifetime of the Energy Foundry, outside public and private sources also may contribute resources. In partnership with the Energy Foundry, ComEd will establish a smart grid test bed to serve as a venue for Energy Foundry 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 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 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.