The Upside to our Rise in Energy Costs

January 04, 2012

Thanks to the recent approval of Smart-Grid legislation, ComEd’s Illinois and Chicago real estate customers are going to see an increase in their utility bills over the next three years. So, what’s the upside?

Beginning this year, Commonwealth Edison will begin a $2.6 billion project that will upgrade its infrastructure, digitize the electrical grid and install smart meter technology in homes. In exchange, residents and businesses will pay more for usage.

But there are pluses to the plan.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday that the legislation should create 2,400 jobs in Chicago over the next few years, including 1,000 construction jobs by 2014 and 350-400 jobs in 2012 alone.

Plus, let us not forget all the power outages we dealt with in 2011; the new technology promises to alleviate the massive issues.

smart meter

Smart meters could be a positive addition to Chicago homes soon.

Today, residents have to call ComEd to report a power outage. Smart meters in homes will help alert the electric company to a problem and allow the company to reroute power around it while repairing the damage.

The smart meters will also allow home and business owners to track their energy consumption so they can save usage and money.

Besides construction, the jobs created will be in sales, engineering, IT, dispatching and equipment distribution. A new training facility will be opened on the southwest Side, an office opening in Chicago will need people to run operations, and extra workers will be hired to install the smart meters.

“We’re modernizing Chicago’s electric infrastructure and building a Smart Grid that will bring significant economic opportunity for the City, adding jobs and creating new facilities that will train Chicagoans to contribute to Chicago’s growing green economy and help Chicago families save money on electricity,” said Mayor Emanuel.

ComEd is also investing $22.5 million to start a first-of-its-kind trust fund that will offer financial aid to entrepreneurs working in the energy industry. The Science and Energy Innovation Trust is coming from the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), enacted by the Illinois General Assembly this past fall, and will support small companies with ideas for products, services and technologies that the smart grid can bring to life.

“Mayor Emanuel is leading Chicago away from the dirty energy sources of the past to a brighter future,” said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, “and the smart grid will help Chicagoans breathe cleaner air and provide new job opportunities in the new energy economy.”

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