- The Illinois Corporation Commission this week adopted a new metric for judging the impact of smart grid upgrades and advanced metering rollouts, by tracking emissions reductions across Ameren's territory in central and southern Illinois.
- The metric was proposed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), after being developed with Commonwealth Edison in the northern part of the state. ComEd began using the tool last year.
- Separately, the ICC is overseeing a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that aims to reduce curtailment of excess renewable power and will result in an analysis offering recommendations for modernizing utility regulatory models.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy just released its annual scorecard, putting lllinois at number 11 nationwide. The state "continued to report above-average levels of savings," according to the report, particularly after passing legislation last year aimed at reinvigorating efficiency efforts.
While the Future Energy Jobs bill received particular attention last year for its overhaul of the state's energy policies, smaller initiatives are also making an impact. The new smart metering metric will direct Ameren to measure and report on emissions reductions associated with its advanced infrastructure.
“We have long said that investment in advanced energy tools like smart meters should be used to clean the air, and this metric provides a precise way to calculate just how much pollution is being kept from our skies," said EDF's Christie Hicks, manager of clean energy regulatory implementation for the conservation group.
Hicks said the new metric will allow Ameren to track the environmental benefits of its smart-grid investments, "including how the utility is meeting Illinois’ ambitious grid modernization goals."
CUB and EDF say tracking the amelioration of the grid’s carbon-intensity due to AMI deployment will help determine which methods of communication and what sort of customer incentives work best.
And last month, Ameren and ComEd selected the Power and Energy System Area of the Electrical and
Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to lead the “NextGrid” study, aimed at modernizing utilities in the state.
ICC Executive Director Cholly Smith said the study will culminate in a final report "offering a range of recommendations to create a 21st Century utility regulatory model supporting innovation, driving economic development, and maximizing benefits to consumers."