ComEd exceeds job creation goals with smart grid program

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ComEd said work on its smart grid initiative supported 2,871 full-time equivalent positions in 2013. The positions included nearly 1,000 direct full-time equivalent jobs at the utility and its contractors as well as more than 1,800 indirect positions created by the program. The data was submitted this week in the company’s 2013 grid modernization progress report to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).

The report showed that the grid modernization program — an effort to modernize and build a smart grid, improve system reliability and reduce outages, and deploy 4 million smart meters — produced 978 full-time equivalent positions, including 314 at the utility and 664 contractor positions.

ComEd also estimates that 1,893 indirect jobs were generated over the course of the year at a variety of businesses that benefit from the ripple effect of about $253 million in capital spending. ComEd works with the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory (REAL) at the University of Illinois to calculate the number of indirect positions resulting from the smart grid investment.

If approved by the ICC, the new plan will enable the utility to complete the installation of more than 4 million smart meters by 2018, ahead of the currently scheduled 2021. The acceleration is expected to save customers an additional $170 million compared to the current schedule. By allowing for two-way communications with the utility and real-time data, digital smart meters provide customers with greater control over energy consumption and costs and will make it easier to take advantage of new pricing programs.

The smart grid law passed in 2011 authorized ComEd to invest $2.6 billion over 10 years to modernize its electric grid, over $1.3 billion of which is earmarked to build a smart grid network and install smart meters in 4 million homes and businesses. ComEd’s grid modernization plan for 2014 includes $203 million in investments dedicated to system reliability, including refurbishing, replacing and upgrading system infrastructure, along with storm hardening and automation work to improve resiliency of circuits especially susceptible to storms. The efforts are expected to continue to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages affecting customers.

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