- Commonwealth Edison and the Illinois Institute of Technology have partnered to develop two microgrids, with help from U.S. Department of Energy grants, that will test new technologies and better understand how to keep power flowing in adverse weather events.
- Over the summer, ComEd proposed a microgrid for Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, which would then connect to an existing microgrid on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus.
- Microgrid study was left out of an Illinois law last year, after lawmakers determined the research was too expensive to pass on to customers. The Bronzeville project, however, is still moving ahead and will help form one of the first "microgrid clusters" in the world, said ComEd.
Exelon's Commonwealth Edison sees microgrids as a vital part of the utility's resiliency strategy moving forward, and is leveraging grants from the federal government to study what can happen when two of the grids are connected.
The utility announced over the summer that it is working on a grant of $1.2 million that supports research, development and testing of the cluster's master controller. The combined microgrids are expected to provide information and assistance to first responders and create a better understanding of how microgrids can be leveraged for emergency response.
A second grant of $4 million will add advanced solar and battery energy storage capacity to the cluster.
The Bronzeville neighborhood hosts the Public Safety Headquarters of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department.
ComEd said the Bronzeville Microgrid would "alleviate the impacts of disruptive events, including a physical or cyber-attack targeting the grid, by sectionalizing power delivery into smaller segments and using localized control, allowing for continuous energy supply to critical facilities and customers connected to the microgrid."
According to Midwest Energy News, plans for the Bronzevillle microgrid include 10 MW of capacity comprising a mix of renewable and fossil fuel generation, combined with batteries. The existing IIT microgrid has about 9 MW of capacity, with a similar mix of resources.