Competitive DOE grant will help local customers benefit from the next generation of smart grid technologies, support the equitable expansion of solar and EVs, and create new job training programs
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following a competitive process, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected ComEd to receive $50 million in federal funding to enhance the power grid’s ability to deliver affordable, clean energy to Illinois communities. The funds will enable ComEd and its local partners to deploy the next generation of grid technologies that support the growth of solar and electric vehicles (EVs), while piloting new local workforce training initiatives to support job creation connected to the clean energy transition. These initiatives will bring a focus to technologies that enhance reliability and affordable access for customers, while informing grid best practices that can be replicated both nationally and locally in northern Illinois.
“Extreme weather events fueled by climate change will continue to strain the nation’s aging transmission systems, but President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will ensure America’s power grid can provide reliable, affordable power,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcement represents the largest-ever direct investment in critical grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will harden systems, improve energy reliability and affordability—all while generating union jobs for highly skilled workers.”
The funds are part of the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, which seeks to enhance grid flexibility and improve the resilience of the power system against growing threats of extreme weather and climate change. Funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by the DOE, the GRIP program leverages federal and private investments to ensure that communities across the nation have a reliable grid that’s prepared for extreme weather while also delivering affordable, clean energy and creating robust local opportunities for economic investment and jobs.
“The clean energy transition is underway in Illinois, and ComEd is committed to advancing innovative solutions to create the grid of the future, while creating equitable economic opportunities for the communities we serve,” said Gil C. Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “The GRIP grant is a credit to the depth of our collaboration with Rockford-area partners, as we focus on investments that increase access to affordable power, cleaner technologies and sustainable jobs for the community at large. With support from the DOE, we’ll take another step toward making northern Illinois a national leader for grid innovation.”
ComEd is a leader in the development and deployment of advanced grid technologies, including advanced metering infrastructure (smart meters) and deployments of distribution automation technologies that rapidly heal the grid to avoid outages and speed restorations. The GRIP award brings these advancements closer to customers at the edge of the grid where new resources like solar generation and battery energy storage are proliferating, allowing ComEd to establish a benchmark in the way that these technologies will interact with the grid. ComEd’s GRIP award will fund a variety of new grid technologies to improve grid resiliency and reliability, as well as workforce programming, all designed to support the clean energy transition. Specifically, ComEd will run new pilot programs designed to support growing distributed energy resources (DERs) and solar installations, and improve system response time during inclement weather.
“ComEd and the City of Rockford are excited to collaborate on another impactful project to enable electrification and decarbonization,” said Thomas P. McNamara, Mayor of Rockford. “In addition to improving power quality needs in our area and supporting the expansion and development of new businesses within the city, we look forward to continued collaboration with ComEd to maximize the project’s benefits with expanded community education and local workforce development for our residents.”
To support the growth of the clean energy sector in Illinois, this federal funding will help stand up new job training programs, with a focus on recruitment from traditionally underrepresented groups. Specifically, the GRIP award will enable a new 12-week paid workforce readiness program for 17- to 19-year-old students that focuses on providing hands-on experiences to educate students on the careers and skills required within the utility industry. These and other workforce initiatives will be launched in collaboration with Rockford-area institutions, including: Region 1 Planning Council, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, The Workforce Connection, YWCA of Northwestern Illinois, Jeremiah Development, Luther Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Rockford.
“The GRIP award and support from ComEd will create an unprecedented opportunity for our Rockford communities as we prepare for a clean energy economy,” said Region 1 Planning Executive Director Michael Dunn. “In partnership with ComEd, we will support critical investments that bring new jobs, expand new technologies and make our region more attractive to those who live and do business here.”
These new investments build on a longstanding collaboration between ComEd and Rockford, including advancements made as part of the Community of the Future (CoF) program, aimed at developing advanced energy technologies to enhance sustainability and resiliency across Rockford and the region. These programs include the ComEd solar Give-A-Ray program and numerous workforce and training partnerships in the region housed at the ComEd Rockford Training Center.
Implementation of the GRIP award in Rockford is expected to get underway in the 3rd quarter of 2024 pending final negotiations with the DOE. To learn more, visit the Grid Deployment Office’s website.
ComEd is one of two Exelon utility companies to be awarded this competitive funding, with PECO also receiving $100 million to support reliability and resiliency in the greater Philadelphia region.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 250 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.