Utility-Scale Microgrid Cluster Approved for Chicago

Illinois regulators last week approved a plan by Exelon Corp. subsidiary Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd) to build one of the first utility-scale microgrid clusters in the U.S. in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

“The new microgrid project will connect with an existing microgrid on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), creating one of the most advanced clustered urban microgrids in the United States,” Joe Svachula, vice president, Engineering and Smart Grid Technology, ComEd, said in a statement. “By connecting with the IIT microgrid, we’ll learn how to integrate microgrids with renewable energy resources and how to maximize the value of the interaction between two microgrids. It’s an important step forward in our effort to develop a more secure, resilient and reliable distribution system in the future.”

According to ComEd, the neighborhood was selected following a comprehensive study to identify an overall resiliency metric for small sections of ComEd’s northern Illinois service territory and map locations where a microgrid could best address both security and resiliency. The project will serve an area that includes 10 critical service facilities.

ComEd said that the first phase of the project will include 2.5 MW of load and require reconfiguration of an existing feeder, and installation of battery storage and solar PV. The second phase will add 4.5 MW of load and 7 MW of distributed energy resources, enough to meet the peak electricity demand of customers within the microgrid footprint and maintain service when the microgrid is islanded from ComEd’s grid.

The microgrid is expected to be completed in 2019, and its performance will be studied for about 10 years.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay


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