- Exelon-owned electric utility Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and gas utilities Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas have announced an initiative to install 1 million smart thermostats in ComEd's Chicago area territory by 2020, EnergyWire reports.
- The program will provide customers with $100-125 rebates for installing smart thermostats from participating vendors Nest Labs and Ecobee, whose thermostats are usually priced around $200-250.
- The initiative was announced in Chicago on Thursday with EPA chief Gina McCarthy, Illinois' chief utility regulator Brien Sheahan, and representatives from the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Citizens Utility Board all in attendance.
The goal of installing 1 million smart thermostats in northern Illinois is easily one of the most ambitious in the U.S. today, and sets a precedent for other utilities to follow.
"[W]e've never targeted this type of density of a million thermostats in a single service territory, and all that that can bring," Ben Bixby, Google-owned Nest Lab's general manager for energy products, told EnergyWire.
ComEd, which has about 3.8 million customers in the northern Illinois area, has several efficiency programs, including several in combination with gas utilities because many homes in the region use gas for heating, and a demand response program with Nest.
“We’re running out of measures, in all honestly,” George Malek, director of efficiency services at ComEd, told Greentech Media about the utility's residential efficiency programs. “We’ve already replaced a lot of light bulbs.”
Today, ComEd installs about 2,000 thermostats per year. But with the newly announced program, ComEd will step up its efforts.
ComEd is targeting 25,000 thermostats during the first year, and an average 300 kWh saved annually for every home with a smart thermostat.
The program could have a big impact on Illinois' compliance with the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, which seeks a statewide 42% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. If 1 million smart thermostats are installed, CO2 emissions would be reduced by over 700,000 metric tons, according to the ELPC.
ComEd has long had the appetite to partner with third parties who can provide technology to customers.
Non-traditional partnerships that help utilities provide more personalized solutions to their customers are going to be “signature features of the world going forward,” ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore told Utility Dive in an interview last year. “These strategic partnerships are really huge. They bring things to the table that we don’t – we’ve got a platform and a channel to the customer, and they’ve got innovative ideas and intellectual capital that we can leverage off of.”