Learn how Smart Grid + Retrofit Chicago can save you money and improve our communities
"We're modernizing Chicago's electric infrastructure and building a Smart Grid that will bring significant economic opportunity for the City, adding jobs and creating new facilities that will train Chicagoans to contribute to Chicago's growing green economy and help Chicago families save money on electricity." - Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chicago residents will be among the first electricity customers in Illinois to receive smart meters in homes and businesses as part of a new smart grid initiative to modernize our aging electricity infrastructure. By 2018, ComEd will install more than four million smart meters to help accelerate customer savings. To date in February 2016, over 950,000 smart meters have been installed in the Chicago area – all Chicago residents are expected to have meters installed by the end 2017.
Smart meters are a key component of smart grid, which improves reliability, provides better service and gives customers greater control over their electric bills. A smart grid and programs like Retrofit Chicago provide families and businesses with more options to save energy and money.
The City of Chicago supports next-generation smart grid technology for smart city infrastructure. New infrastructure investments lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and improved quality of life for citizens. A smart grid will provide residents with better electric service, while supporting environmental sustainability and healthier communities with less energy waste. A smart grid will make Chicago a smarter, more resilient City with innovation and job creation for a brighter future.
Investing in a modernized smart grid in Chicago will help residents receive more reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity.
*Smart grid savings cannot be guaranteed. Individual savings vary based on market rates, weather, and individual electricity usage.
What is a Smart Grid?
'Smart grid' is the modernization of the electric power infrastructure here in Chicago, across the US and around the world. The 100-year old electricity grid network will now be improved with smart technology, money-saving pricing options, and empowered consumers. Smart grid can refer to many parts of grid modernization including the application of new information technology, such as smart meters. Smart electricity pricing options, new consumer products, and consumer engagement also make up the Smart Grid.
Smart grid will transform how people use and pay for power by giving consumers more power over their energy use - which means more opportunities to save money. Grid modernization will also help Chicago become more resilient in the face of severe weather, with fewer power outages and more reliable service.
What will Smart Grid cost and who is paying for it?
The cost to each ComEd customer for all smart grid improvements is about $3 per month. In addition to the reduction in ComEd's operational costs that are passed on to customers, you can more than offset the cost of smart grid improvements by taking advantage of online energy-management tools and by enrolling in optional pricing programs.
What is a Smart Meter?
A smart meter is a digital electric meter that securely sends electricity usage information to the utility company. This helps eliminate estimated bills and the need for a meter reader to visit your home. With two-way communication, smart meters will give you access to more information on your electricity usage, so you can make better decisions about how and when to use electricity. ComEd will install the smart meter in the same location as your existing meter.
Are Smart Meters safe?
Yes, smart meters use a low-power wireless radio to communicate electricity usage information to the utility company. When smart meters are transmitting, they emit low levels of "Radio Frequency," or RF, that are comparable to, and oftentimes weaker than, other common household items, including baby monitors, radios, and TVs.
Will Smart Meters give the utility control over my electric usage?
No, the smart grid is about giving customers - not the utility company --more control over their electric bills. Smart meters do not transmit personal identification information about customers, and they can't identify - or control - the appliances you're using. Plus, state law mandates that utilities, their contractors or agents, and any third party cannot sell a customer's personal information, such as name, address, telephone number, and data about electricity usage (Citizens Utility Board).
How can Smart Meters save money?
Electricity costs can change from day to day, hour to hour, and even minute to minute. When more people are using electricity during 'peak times' (often between 2 pm and 7 pm), the cost of electricity can be higher.Today, most Chicago residents are unaware of this because most of us pay a flat rate for each kilowatt-hour of electricity used, no matter the time of day. This system increases the chance that residents will pay more for electricity, since we tend to use more electricity during expensive times and do not react to the price differences. Smart meters give Chicagoans the opportunity to sign up for pricing programs including Peak-Time Savings and Hourly Pricing, which reward customers who reduce their electricity usage when costs and demand are high. Smart meters also eliminate the need for ComEd to estimate your electricity usage because smart meters will automatically send meter readings to the utility company. And with a smart meter, consumers will have access to more to their electricity usage information 24/7, and more information means more control over costs.
You can find out if smart meters have already been installed in your neighborhood or when to expect your installation by visiting the ComEd Smart Meter Installation Schedule which includes an up-to-date map and schedule by ward.
Smart consumers in Chicago will benefit from energy savings programs like the Retrofit Chicago Residential Partnership. Retrofit Chicago is helping homes and businesses achieve 20% energy efficiency improvements to help people save money and improve the environment. Retrofit programs will help families and businesses take advantage of their smart meter savings opportunities by further reducing energy waste. You can take advantage of free energy assessments, free installation of energy saving products, and connect to financing and other resources to help you complete an energy efficiency retrofit of your house or residential building.
Call 844-922-1222 or visit Retrofit Chicago Residential Partnership website. After you sign up a Retrofit Chicago partner will contact you with resources to make your house or residential building more comfortable and affordable. Start saving energy and money today
Through the City of Chicago's Retrofit Chicago program, Mayor Emanuel identified energy efficiency as a priority for strengthening Chicago to make the city the most affordable, competitive, and sustainable city of the 21st century. Retrofit Chicago and Smart Grid support the City's environmental roadmap, Sustainable Chicago 2015, and its goals to improve citywide energy efficiency by 5 percent and to establish Chicago as a hub for the growing sustainable economy.
You can create an online ComEd account to better manage your electricity use to save money on your electric bills. With a smart meter, you can view daily and hourly usage information, sign up for weekly usage reports and enroll to receive high- usage alerts when your usage is trending higher than usual.
For additional information and access to your electricity use data, you can use Green Button Download. Coming later in 2016, this tool will have additional features to give customers the ability to share their energy use data with third party vendors for additional management opportunities.
Currently ComEd offers Hourly Pricing and Peak Time Savings programs. Customers can enroll in both programs for additional savings.
ComEd’s Peak Time Savings Program allows you to earn a credit on your electric bill for voluntarily using less electricity during Peak Time Savings Hours. There’s no cost to enroll and no penalty if you don’t participate in any Peak Time Savings Hours. You can learn more and enroll in the program by visiting the Peak Time Savings Program website.
Hourly Pricing (formally known as Residential Real-Time Pricing or RRTP) lets customers pay the hourly, market price of electricity. For this program, the price you pay may vary from hour to hour based on wholesale market prices.
Participants have access to hourly prices of electricity, and will receive high price notifications and alerts in addition to other useful information. Individual cost savings are not guaranteed and will vary month to month based on weather, market conditions, and usage habits. However, the more participants avoid using electricity when hourly prices are high, the more they can potentially save with Hourly Pricing.
Since the Hourly Pricing program began, participants have saved an average of more than 15% on electricity supply as compared with what they would have paid with ComEd's fixed price rate. By enrolling and simply lowering your use during high price times, you can start saving money. You do have to have a smart meter already installed or have another temporary meter installed that can measure hourly electricity usage. There is a small monthly fee of $0.39 on your utility bill to participate and you do have to enroll in the program for 12 consecutive months.
You can learn more and enroll in the program by visiting the Hourly Pricing Program website or calling 888-202-7787.
One way for Chicago residents to leverage their smart meters is to install a smart thermostat in their home. A smart thermostat gives you the ability to control the temperature of your home or building remotely from any internet enabled device. The device adapts to your lifestyle and helps you save money and energy. You can take advantage of current rebates and learn more on the Retrofit Chicago FAQ page.
Smart Grid + Renewable Energy
The Smart Grid allows for better integration of renewable energy sources into the electricity grid. Smart Grid improvements include better energy storage, more control over distribution, and smart meter installation. These improvements give grid operators to adapt to power demand quickly when wind or solar power production decreases. Energy storage allows the Smart Grid to absorb excess wind and solar power when it isn't needed, then to release that energy when the wind and solar power production decreases. The Smart Grid will also make it easier to shift power to places where it is most needed more efficiently.
Questions? Please email email@example.com or call 311.
For additional energy saving tips please visit the following resources:
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The Smart Grid Program at the City of Chicago is proudly supported by the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation