Editor’s note: On Sept. 27, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission also required Ameren, the electric utility for central and Southern Illinois, to measure and report on emissions reductions with the help of advanced metering infrastructure.
We all know exercise is good for our hearts and bodies, and who doesn’t enjoy stepping on the scale after weeks of good workouts to confirm progress was made?
In a way, power companies are just like people.
As they begin to invest in smart meters and other grid modernization efforts, utilities want to know how well they do. Are grid programs fulfilling environmental promises and cutting pollution? Can they measure success and prove to investors and regulators they’re making smart decisions?
To that effect, Illinois’ largest electricity provider, Commonwealth Edison, is the first in the country to adopt a new tool that calculates clean air benefits from investments such as advanced meters.
Beyond bringing tangible rewards to ComEd, this little-noticed milestone can have major implications for the entire power industry.
$2.6 billion for smart grid paved way
After Illinois passed the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act in 2011, channeling $2.6 billion to ComEd to modernize the grid, the company began to replace customers’ conventional electric meters with advanced meters. The new devices make it easier to provide energy savings programs and other clean energy services, while helping the utility reduce outages.
The company is now more than half-way there, having deployed more than 2 million meters across its territory, along with other sensing and control technology.
This is where the first-of-its kind metric comes in.
ComEd started to use the measurement tool earlier this year to calculate and report to state regulators greenhouse gas reductions from its new and advanced energy infrastructure. It was developed in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund and the Citizens Utility Board, Illinois’ premiere utility watchdog.
The initiative serves, in essence, as a pilot project for other power companies that share ComEd’s objectives to build a modern grid and be held accountable to investors and the public they serve.
This metric…does what, exactly?
By determining the carbon value of a kilowatt-hour of electricity for all 8,760 hours in a single year, the new metric can pinpoint how much pollution the advanced meters are keeping out of the air.
For example, when power comes from high-carbon coal, using a kWh of this electricity results in more carbon pollution than when power is coming from mostly low-carbon wind or solar.
Advanced meters can also open the door for numerous clean energy and smart grid tools, such as energy efficiency and demand response, which rewards customers for conserving electricity when the grid needs it most. The metric will be able to track the greenhouse gas reductions associated with all of these efforts, and more.
Rewards too good to pass up
As ComEd continues its advanced meter rollout, the utility hopes to be rewarded accordingly. Illinois offers higher earnings for utilities that show they’re meeting the goals of the state’s grid modernization plan.
As the company gains more experience with the metric’s use, it will also be able to incorporate the findings into future plans and make more informed investment decisions going forward.
ComEd may be first out of the gate with this innovative tool, but it probably won’t be the last in our growing clean energy economy.
Given the National Toxicology Study indicating that there are non-thermal impacts of radio frequency exposure (brain and heart cancer and tumors) it is incredulous that environmentalists would continue to promote smart meters. The wireless industry appears to to following many of the strategies of tobacco scientists, in fact, using the same mercenary scientists. Real people are suffering real harm due to the introduction of smart meters and related infrastructure in communities, and, the emperor has no clothes.
Thank you for your comment and interest Patricia.
As with cell phones, a person’s radio frequency exposure depends on the signal strength and distance. Findings from the Electric Power Research Institute conclude that a person 10 feet from a smart meter would experience very low levels of RF exposure - 250 to 1,250 times less than exposure from using a cell phone. So, smart meters make up a very small part of a person’s daily exposure. Such a risk would still be unacceptable unless smart meters carried substantial, provable benefits.
Can we show that the benefits of smart meters are substantial? Yes. With prudent implementation, informed by the best research, the nation’s smart grid will deliver cleaner air, reduced deaths and illnesses from air pollution, more reliable electric power and greater consumer control over electric power and costs. And smart meters are key to realizing these benefits, because they allow for two-way, real-time communication that gives households and utilities the data they need to cut usage and costs.
For more information, I encourage you to look at our fact sheet on the benefits of a modernized, smart grid.
People who believe that smart meters are doing substantial damage are right to share their views, as aggressively as they choose. EDF has listened hard, reexamined the evidence and decided that the case for smart meters is still very much stronger than the case against them.
Those who still don’t agree will rightly keep pushing us. We promise to keep listening and re-examining the evidence, and remain ready to alter our position if we think the evidence warrants it.
This is great. How can we make these meters a standard?
Claude-Reynald…July 19, 2016 at 11:40 pm