Appellate Court eliminates foundation for ComEd Smart Grid pilot

Source: Exelon

ComEd has asked the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) for immediate action to redefine a path for Illinois’ first Smart Grid pilot in response to a September 30 Illinois Appellate Court decision that effectively kills the study phase of the ICC’s plan for modernizing Illinois’ electric infrastructure. ComEd has asked the ICC for a decision on a temporary measure that would transfer some of the costs of the pilot into ComEd’s general pending rate case instead of the rider.

In its petition, ComEd asked the ICC to approve a scaled-down version of its leading-edge Smart Grid pilot program, the funding for which the Illinois Appellate Court eliminated in its September order. The pilot was designed to generate information that would feed into a longer-term process established by the ICC and aimed at discerning what sorts of investments in grid modernization best would serve Illinois’ economic future. ComEd’s pilot is on hold until a decision is made.

“Many industry experts and state policy leaders view grid modernization and Smart Grid technology as critical to future economic development,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. “As the United States economy emerges from the recent and devastating recession, high quality infrastructure will be a competitive advantage. ComEd wants to support Illinois in taking a leadership role.”

Forty-three states have recognized the importance of Smart Grid investments by conducting pilots or full deployment of the new technology. Last week, New York regulators approved a program similar to the one the Illinois Appellate Court rejected. ComEd is seeking guidance on next steps to prevent Illinois, currently a leader in Smart Grid development, from becoming one of only a handful of states with no active Smart Grid initiative in place.

The pilot was widely recognized as forward-looking, due to its focus on customer interaction with new technology and its collaborative approach to pilot design involving more than 50 stakeholders in the state. The technologies being studied in the pilot hold promise in reducing electric system outages, enhancing communications between utilities and customers and providing important information that would afford customers more control over their electricity usage and opportunities to reduce their bills.

“This temporary measure will enable ComEd to finish the study, but it is not a long-term solution,” said Pramaggiore. “Nevertheless we believe it is critical that the ICC indicates its direction to move forward, and keep the path to a future Smart Grid open.”

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