- Commonwealth Edison is pushing for lawmakers to pass legislation funding six microgrids the utility wants to develop, including a 17 MW system that would back up the Chicago Rockford International Airport, Microgrid Knowledge reports.
- In addition to the microgrids, the legislation (which ComEd calls its "Future Energy Plan") would expand Illinois' Smart Grid Law, passed in 2011, by growing energy efficiency programs and increasing access to renewable energy sources.
- Other sites of proposed microgrids include the Illinois Medical District in Chicago, the DuPage County government complex, and the Chicago Heights water pumping and treatment facility.
In the wake of 2012's Hurricane Sandy, which left millions on the east coast without power, ComEd has been pushing to develop a series of microgrids it says can help the state meet clean energy goals while also providing resiliency for critical services. But to install the grids, ComEd will need state lawmakers to approve its Future Energy Plan legislation. And in addition to funding the northern Illinois grid projects, the utility is pitching it as a jobs bill.
ComEd said 4,600 local jobs have been created by the state's original microgrid legislation and the Future Energy Plan would continue that trend, adding hundreds of jobs to develop infrastructure.
The microgrid pilot project is one of the components of ComEd’s Future Energy Plan, ComEd president and CEO Anne Pramaggiore said in a statement, and it is "focused on helping our communities and customers leverage smart grid investments and take advantage of emerging technologies that will deliver the clean, custom, dependable and affordable energy future that our customers need and want."
The city's airport is a "critical economic driver," said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, as well as being integral the transportation system. "A self-reliant microgrid at the Chicago-Rockford International Airport will help our region attract more jobs and improve the security and resiliency of our national air transportation network," Morrissey said.
“Like ComEd, we run a 24-by-7 operation and having a secure system is critical to what we do and just as critical is having a back-up plan that can be implemented immediately to maintain safe and reliable service," said Jeff Polsean, director of economic development at the Chicago Rockford International Airport. "Building a microgrid at the Rockford airport means increasing the safety, security and resiliency of our system and ensures we can operate in emergency situations.”
In addition to the airport system, ComEd is proposing five other microgrids as part of the legislation, to be developed at four locations: the Illinois Medical District in Chicago; DuPage County government complex; the Aurora FAA facility; and the Chicago Heights water pumping and treatment facility.
The Department of Energy last year awarded ComEd a $1.2 million grant to develop a unique microgrid master controller that could drive the operations of clusters of microgrids. The utility said the controller will be located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and will allow connection to the Illinois Institute of Technology’s existing microgrid.
The legislation is pending before the Illinois General Assembly after being introduced earlier this year by House Rep. Robert Rita (D). Both houses of the state legislature are scheduled to return Jan. 13, 2016.