- Commonwealth Edison has agreed to help evaluate a new greenhouse gas metric developed by environmental and consumer advocates, focusing on the impacts of clean energy investments and technologies at varying times of demand, Smart Grid News reports.
- The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said they developed the new method of measuring emissions reductions as one way of measuring the effectiveness of clean energy investments, like smart meters.
- ComEd, CUB and EDF all worked together to develop the "variable carbon value" of a kilowatt-hour of electricity for all 8,760 hours in the year, the groups said, comparing the output at times of high-intensity usage with times when renewables are generating more of the nation's power.
A new energy economy may require new methods of measuring value, leading advocates and Illinois' largest utility to partner on a new metric.
“As the first utility in the country to adopt this greenhouse gas measurement tool, ComEd is leading the way to a cleaner energy future,” Dick Munson, Midwest director of clean energy for EDF, said in a statement. “Utilities should be recognized for putting in place more efficient, smarter energy options, but it’s impossible to know the true value of investments without a way to measure results."
The new metric, Munson explained, "allows ComEd to definitively show how its smart-grid initiatives are reducing pollution and clearing our air.”
Following a series of workshops, the two groups and the utility jointly developed methods to calculate emissions savings due to changes in electricity usage for each hour in the year. The resulting measurement, they say, can determine the variable carbon value of a kWh of electricity for all 8,760 hours in the year. The system could compare, for instance, the value of a kWh saved during an hour of high-carbon intensity, when marginal power comes from coal, with the value of a kWh of lower-carbon output.
The groups said the new metric will capture GHG reductions resulting from a variety of clean energy and smart grid efforts, including: efficiency and conservation, reducing peak demand, enabling demand response and the integration of clean energy resources. And, they said the metric allows ComEd to count operational benefits, such as the reduced use of meter-reading vehicles. Because it can now receive meter data remotely, ComEd will avoid sending employees to read the device, thus saving money and cutting pollution.
“In Illinois, a smarter grid has the potential to make our electricity system more efficient and cleaner,” said CUB Executive Director David Kolata. “As the nation tackles the issue of carbon emissions, we owe it to consumers to clearly track such benefits.”
Kolata also said the new metric will allow ComEd to calculate and report on the clean air benefits from advanced metering infrastructure, as well as the programs and technologies they enable. “The nation is watching how Illinois builds a better power grid,” he said. “Consumer advocates and the Illinois Commerce Commission have worked very hard to make sure that we’re using the right metrics to gauge the consumer benefits of the smart grid.”