Illinois utility ComEd has announced plans to speed up its deployment of smart meters in the state, claiming its revised timetable will lead to considerable cost savings for customers.
The utility – the largest in Illinois – appears to have come under pressure from local authorities to complete its installation of more than four million smart meters by 2018, instead of the current deadline of 2021.
Should the Illinois Commerce Commission approve its revised plans, ComEd (Chicago, IL, USA) will begin work on the rollout this year and aim to install 500,000 meters by the end of 2014.
Customers can expect to realize an additional $150 million in savings as a result of the new timetable, says ComEd.
The first to benefit under ComEd’s plans would be customers on the south side of Chicago, where the utility hopes to install more than 260,000 smart meters in 2014 and serve the entire area in 2015 – about six months earlier than originally envisaged.
“An accelerated deployment of smart meters in Chicago will provide more residents with the opportunity to conserve electricity and save money,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“A modern, high-tech electric infrastructure is essential for Chicago’s global economic competitiveness.”
According to ComEd, customers using its smart-meter services will be able to better manage electricity consumption and costs and make informed decisions about usage of appliances and other electrical devices.
“Smart meters bring immediate benefits to our customers and enable them to better manage their energy usage and realize meaningful energy cost savings,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of customer operations at ComEd.
“Even more exciting is the opportunity for customers to take advantage of an increasing array of smart energy products and services that will become available to them,” added Jensen. “Operating in conjunction with our investment in the smart grid, these meters transform the way we all use energy.”
ComEd also said it was actively exploring partnerships and programs that would help customers to benefit more from the use of smart meters.
It is launching an initiative to identify and partner with third parties offering products and services that could be used on the smart grid to provide additional value to customers.
“Faster deployment of the smart grid makes economic sense for Illinois consumers,” said David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board (CUB). “Not only will it lower overall implementation costs through economies of scale, but it will also allow consumers to more quickly access smart grid benefits, including improved reliability, better energy efficiency, and new, money-saving power pricing programs.”