ComEd Awarded $4 Million To Expand Electric Vehicle Fleet and Test Impact on Electric Grid

ComEd has received notice of a $1.5 million grant from the City of Chicago that stems from $15 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding awarded to the city by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under its Clean Cities Grant program. ComEd will use the funding to acquire up to 14 new hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles over the next two years, adding to the 10 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and 151 hybrids already in use. The company’s green vehicles number more than 2,100, which comprises 63 percent of its overall fleet.

The Clean Cities funding also will be used to deploy "smart charging" infrastructure at ComEd facilities that will enable the company to continue studying the impacts of vehicle charging while managing the electric load associated with these vehicles.

"We believe this is viable technology and we want to help ensure a positive experience for customers who adopt electric vehicle technology," said Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. "Our goal is to enable customers to make more informed choices about how they use electricity, such as charging their vehicles at night, which could potentially save them money on their electric bills."

ComEd’s vehicle charging infrastructure will include one station equipped with solar canopies and stationary battery storage to capture solar-electric energy and use it to recharge the vehicles. The utility also will deploy up to 32 public vehicle smart charging stations in the Chicago area, including one solar-powered station. The public charging stations will be located with the help of the City of Chicago, the Chicago Area Clean Cities coalition, and other community partners to ensure optimal charging opportunities for users of plug-in vehicle technology.

ComEd also is participating in the DOE’s Transportation Electrification grant program in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and more than 50 other utilities to demonstrate the performance of plug-in hybrid electric bucket trucks in operational conditions. Backed by $45 million in ARRA funding, the program will help put more than 300 energy-efficient bucket trucks into use across the country, 25 of which will be deployed by ComEd over the next two years.

"We also will use smart charging technology to study the impact of large plug-in vehicles on the electric grid, while demonstrating advanced, automated methods for managing usage, such as time-of-day charging, and aggregate load management for groups of vehicles," said Terence Donnelly, executive vice president of Operations, ComEd.

ComEd also has been awarded $253,000 from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IPEA) to retrofit about 40 of its large diesel vehicles with anti-idling technology in a pilot project that will help lower the emission of greenhouse gases. The retrofits, which are expected to begin this fall, will involve the installation of direct-fire heaters, which reduce the need to idle large diesel engines during periods of extreme cold to prevent the freezing of vital engine fluids.

"With the help of anti-idling technology, we expect to save about 6,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel per winter for the 40 vehicles in the pilot," Donnelly said. "That equates to a savings of about 50 metric tons of CO2."

The pilot will enable ComEd to evaluate the technology in terms of the savings it generates and the reliability of the equipment. The effort is one of 21 projects totaling $6.7 million that were approved under the Illinois Clean Diesel Grant Program.

Last week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that ComEd could receive up to $5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for the utility’s Smart Grid solar pilot. This one-year project would examine customer responses to pricing signals, the impact of renewable distributed energy system, and how they can best be integrated into a future Smart Grid system.

ComEd’s solar pilot would include approximately 200 customers, most of whom would be among the first 140,000 ComEd customers to receive a new smart meter through ComEd’s proposed Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) pilot, which currently is under consideration by the Illinois Commerce Commission. A smart meter is a digital electric meter that collects usage information every 30 minutes and sends that information to ComEd through a secure telecommunications connection.

A group of customers in the pilot would receive solar photovoltaic systems, some with energy storage capability, and be placed on a real-time electricity price and net metering program which lets customers get credit for excess electricity generated by their solar energy systems that goes back to ComEd’s grid. Other customers in the pilot will receive only an energy monitoring display.

“ComEd’s solar pilot will be a sophisticated study of how renewable distributed energy systems can be integrated into the power grid,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. “We are proud to be a pioneer in leveraging groundbreaking technologies and identifying ways to provide our customers a smarter and greener electric delivery system.”

ComEd’s Smart Grid solar pilot will:

* Study how integration of photovoltaic panels and energy storage into AMI systems will affect reliability of the distribution system.
* Observe and evaluate the way consumers engage with technology and respond to price signals during peak and non-peak demand times.
* Assess customer attitudes toward adopting new and emerging technologies.

The estimated award to ComEd for the solar pilot is $5 million, but the final grant amount is pending negotiations between ComEd and the DOE on project details. Acceptance of the grant is also contingent on approval of ComEd’s AMI pilot proposal.

Pending these approvals, the pilot would begin in early 2010. Four groups of customers will be selected from customers located within the AMI pilot footprint, which includes nine towns serviced by its Maywood operating center and the Humboldt Park area in Chicago. .

Partners on the ComEd pilot include the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, which will survey participants to assess attitudes toward adopting new/emerging technologies; Argonne National Lab for data gathering and analysis; and GridPoint for battery storage systems and photovoltaic and energy monitoring.

Grant funding would come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), of which $117.6 million is allocated for disbursement by the DOE in support of innovative solar energy technology proposals.

Separate from this application, ComEd also applied for $175 million in ARRA federal stimulus funding to more than double the AMI pilot project and expand investment in other advanced automation technology to make the transmission and distribution systems “smarter” and more reliable.

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately 5.4 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across Northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.