A bill backed by Illinois’ largest utility would bring more energy efficiency, microgrids, community solar and electric vehicles to the state, in a significant grid modernization effort.
HB 3328/SB1879 allows Commonwealth Edison to expand its energy efficiency offerings to include voltage control. The move is expected to reduce energy use by up to 1.9 billion kWh. Voltage control allows for the precise monitoring and control of the energy delivered to homes and businesses, decreasing energy losses while maintaining high quality power.
Introduced before the General Assembly last week, the legislation also would allow utilities to earn a return on energy efficiency investments. Costs would be amortized over five years to ease the impact on ratepayers.
In addition, the bill allots $300 million for ComED to build six microgrids and $100 million to install 5,000 solar EV charging stations over five years.
See details on Illinois $300 million microgrid proposal at MicrogridKnowledge.com.
The proposal would open the way for community solar, also known as solar gardens, by requiring that ComEd offer ‘meter aggregation.’ The utility would make use of digital smart meters t to create a pool of community-based solar, shared by multiple customers.
If approved, the legislation will createa new rate structure where residential customers would pay for power delivery based on their peak demand, instead of overall consumption. The rate structure is already used for commercial and industrial customers. ComEd says that the demand-based rates will incent peak reduction, spread grid costs more fairly, and better align utility revenue with the fixed costs.
The proposal includes a financial hardship provision that commits ComEd to contribute $10 million in financial assistance to customers having trouble paying their electric bills from 2016 to 2021. This builds upon a $50 million contribution the utility is making through 2016.
And finally, the legislation refines the Illinois renewable portfolio standard to better incorporate the impacts of municipal aggregation, releases funds for wind and solar energy, and changes handling of renewable energy credits for certain entities.
Lawmakers hope to take up the bill this spring, before the Illinois General Assembly adjourns, which is scheduled for the end of May.
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