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updated: 8/16/2017 5:41 PM

ComEd to make bigger move into solar energy

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  • Solar energy panels line the roof of the Ikea store in Schaumburg. ComEd officials said the electric utility will make a major push over the next 13 years to increase the amount of electricity generated from solar energy, the next step following the company's completion of the smart grid system.

    Solar energy panels line the roof of the Ikea store in Schaumburg. ComEd officials said the electric utility will make a major push over the next 13 years to increase the amount of electricity generated from solar energy, the next step following the company's completion of the smart grid system.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Anne R. Pramaggiore

    Anne R. Pramaggiore

 
 

ComEd will make a major investment in solar energy over the next several years in a move the utility said will expand its efficiency offerings for customers.

ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore said the investment comes as the company completes its conversion to a smart grid system. That conversion -- which included the installation of smart meters as well as major upgrades to the utility's equipment and transmission systems -- has already produced more than $2.3 billion in energy efficiency savings to customers, according to company figures.

Pramaggiore said the completion of the smart grid lays the foundation to expand on the use of alternate energy sources such as solar power. The utility's goal is to provide 3,000 megawatts of electricity through solar power within the next four to five years.

"Our peak load is about 24,000 megawatts, so it's not an insignificant amount," she said.

ComEd will develop programs that will provide residential and business customers with options of generating or receiving electricity from solar power, from using rooftop solar panels to creating what the utility calls community supply projects -- local generating stations that customers would be able to tap for electricity.

On Tuesday, the utility filed a request with the Illinois Commerce Commission that would expand the ability of customers to buy solar energy through community supply projects. Under the proposal, the project owners would produce and provide energy to ComEd's supply grid, and subscribers would receive credits based on their share of the energy produced.

Pramaggiore added ComEd would also develop an online tool that would provide customers with specific solar power options based on information on the customer's power needs.

"We're working with solar developers and are making sure they can interconnect," she said. "We know who's out there as a provider, and we can calculate it all up and say, 'If you want to buy, this is what it looks like; if you want to lease, this is what it looks like; of if you want to share in a community project, this is what it looks like."

Although alternative energy has lost its momentum nationally under the Trump administration, Pramaggiore said momentum is still strong at the state level and ComEd is keeping its commitment to meet its goal of having 25 percent of its power generated from renewable sources by 2025,

"We've seen the impact of these efficiencies as a business function, not just a nice to do for customers," she said. "It's now a part of the business."