Microgrids are Building the Future Electric Ecosystem

A Utility Pioneers the Urban Microgrid

by Terrence Donnelly

The Bronzeville microgrid, soon to be built by ComEd in a South Chicago neighborhood, will enable the deployment of a raft of new electric technologies and transform the utility – customer relationship.

The pioneering work we will do has national implications for other utilities and their customers.

Also: Perspective: Progress on Smart Grid is Mixed – a video interview with Michael Carlson

In the next few decades, the grid will evolve to a completely interactive ecosystem.

Grid analytics will provide the basis for decision making in real-time from grid edge devices to cloud base software solutions.

Microgrids are a key element in that evolution.

Michael Carlson

Michael Carlson

And the Bronzeville community of south Chicago, served by Commonwealth Edison, is in the vanguard of the coming change.

ComEd and Bronzeville are leading the charge in resiliency and transformation by establishing a true community microgrid.

That pioneering effort will be explained and explored in an industrywide free webcast, Bronzeville, The Dawn of the Utility Microgrid, Thursday, December 6 from noon to 1:30 ET. Click here to register.

Bronzeville is the first utility-operated microgrid cluster in the nation, establishing a Community of the Future where ComEd and the local community collaborate to invigorate a neighborhood, leveraging the strength of the smart grid and related services and technologies to enhance the everyday lives of community members.

ComEd is a first mover imagining a smart community where residents and businesses are connected in new ways, reducing their environmental footprint, and having more options and control over their energy usage.

“Bronzeville is the first utility-operated microgrid cluster in the nation.”

Today, the utility industry is experiencing developments to technology and changing markets that are transforming the traditional way of doing business.

The current state of the grid consists of many completely integrated sub-systems forming a single solution known as the “intelligent grid.”

Most utilities are beginning to prepare for these changes by entering discussions around grid modernization, distributed energy resources compensation, and business model transformation. They are enhancing core utility priorities such as reliability, resiliency and efficiency.

Implementing new technology for these changes, while maintaining normal ongoing operations is a major challenge. Successful implementation of these new business models means that utilities must meet a new level of systems requirements. As a result, utilities are partnering with vendors to develop, deliver and deploy microgrids in their territories.

Microgrids have been used in niche applications for many years, providing backup energy to military bases, college campuses, and other institutions. As the electric grid becomes increasingly digital and the demand for renewable power, security and reliability grows, microgrids are expected to become mainstream and serve as a core piece of the electric system’s infrastructure.

Essentially a small power grid with defined boundaries, a microgrid can operate both when connected to the larger electric grid and as an “island” when there’s an interruption on the main grid.

Michael Carlson will be participating in the Bronzeville, The Dawn of the Utility Microgrid videocast noon – 1:30 pm December 6. ComEd and Siemens are sponsors of the videocast.

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