Mayors Caucus and ComEd Collaborate to Advance Smart Cities

by | May 9, 2017

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The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC), a membership organization of the Chicago region’s 275 cities, towns and villages; announced on May 4 that it has joined Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) – the largest electric utility in Illinois, serving the Chicago and Northern Illinois area – in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will support the study and development of new energy efficiency programs, smart streetlights, and community and residential solar; and other infrastructure projects.

The MOU sets the stage for a one-of-a-kind collaboration between ComEd and the MMC to develop a pilot for a national model on how utilities and municipalities can work together to create greener, more resilient and sustainable communities.

The announcement follows a green light from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) last month that established “smart” as the new standard for all streetlights that ComEd owns in northern Illinois. The new standard is expected to accelerate the deployment of smart LED street lighting service that will leverage the wireless communications network used by ComEd’s new smart grid.

Connecting smart streetlights to the ComEd smart grid allows communities to remotely and instantaneously dim lights for energy savings and brighten them for greater safety. They also can be controlled on-demand by first responders to better manage emergency situations.

In addition, smart streetlights serve as a backbone for sensor-based, smart city features that allow for a broad range of solutions – from intelligent waste management to air quality monitoring, snow removal monitoring and traffic management.

This new initiative will be funded as a result of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner (R) last year. It goes into effect in June and will increase support for energy efficiency from $250 million to $400 million annually by 2030. These funds create savings opportunities for all customer classes, including municipalities, supporting the development of new energy efficiency programs as well as the conversion of current municipal lighting systems to smart LED streetlights.

For the past six years, MMC has served as administrator of energy efficiency programs for the public sector through a program formally managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The ICC recently granted a petition proposed by ComEd and the DCEO that will allow ComEd to assume responsibility for the program.

In 2015, ComEd launched smart streetlight pilot projects in Bensenville and Lombard. Informed by learnings from these pilots, ComEd is developing plans to replace all 140,000 ComEd-owned municipal streetlights with LED streetlights beginning later this year.

“ComEd and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus are working to enhance the livability and sustainability of the communities we serve,” said the utility’s CEO Anne Pramaggiore. “We’re nearing the completion of the smart grid modernization program, which is producing record reliability for our customers, and we’re eager to begin leveraging the strength of this modern digital platform.

“We will work together to inform cities and towns about the benefits of smart streetlights, solar power, and other technologies,” Pramaggiore pledged.” We will also help municipalities that own their own streetlights to identify ways to fund the conversion to smart LED lights. We hope the lessons learned from this collaboration can be replicated across the entire ComEd service territory, Illinois and the nation.”

Founded in 1997, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus is a membership organization of the Chicago region’s 275 cities, towns and villages. ComEd and the MMC have a long history of collaborating on issues that impact the region, such as energy efficiency, Powering Safe Community grants, and storm response through the creation of joint operations centers to help manage service restoration following extreme weather events.

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