Energy Exchange

This utility is training workers for the clean energy future – with an eye on inclusion and equity

A clean energy future is attainable only with a proper workforce to support it, a fact recognized by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and Illinois’ largest electric utility, ComEd. The ICC recently approved ComEd’s $30 million Workforce Development Implementation Plan – a first-of-its-kind plan that establishes three clean energy jobs training programs for the citizens of Illinois.

The bones of the plan were established by the Future Energy Jobs Act, a bipartisan clean energy development package passed by the state legislature in December 2016. The act directs ComEd to implement its job training programs with special attention given to the recruitment, training, and placement of economically-disadvantaged communities, foster care alumni, and returning citizens. Since the bill went into effect, ComEd has worked with a variety of groups – including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and environmental justice stakeholders – to meet the legislation’s goals.

By crafting a comprehensive and inclusive workforce development plan, ComEd is setting an example that other utilities can follow as the U.S. transitions to a clean energy economy. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Equity / Comments are closed

The power of energy data in Illinois and beyond

The U.S. electricity industry is experiencing unprecedented innovation and change. The grid is getting smarter and customers can play a more active role in how their electricity is made, moved, and used. Between all the initiatives that utilities, cities, and states are pursuing and the new services and products that entrepreneurs are creating, it can be difficult to keep up.

That’s why I enjoy connecting with and learning from colleagues at events like the Demand Response and Distributed Energy Resources World Forum. Held in Costa Mesa, California on Oct. 10-11 this year, the forum brings together stakeholders from across the clean energy industry to discuss the latest technology and business strategies for increasing distributed energy resources – like solar panels and batteries – and demand-side resources like demand response. Read More »

Also posted in Data Access / Comments are closed

How Illinois is working toward a cleaner, more equitable energy future

By Tyler Fitch, 2017 EDF Climate Corps Fellow

EDF Climate Corps fellows are designing clean energy solutions that reduce pollution and save money across the country. And at my summer fellowship with Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Midwest clean energy team as a part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, I pursued ways to make clean energy benefit more than just one bottom line.

My work resulted from the Future Energy Jobs Act, a monumental piece of bipartisan legislation that aims to transform Illinois' clean energy economy and “benefit all citizens of the State, including low-income [communities].” Those lofty goals were enshrined in law in December 2016, the result of hard work and negotiation from the Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of more than 200 environmental, business, and faith organizations dedicated to promoting clean energy in the state.

The energy landscape is changing in Illinois, and – if the Future Energy Jobs Act achieves what it set out to do – the future will be brighter for everyone. Here’s how. Read More »

Also posted in EDF Climate Corps, Energy Equity / Comments are closed

Illinois explores smart inverters’ potential to strengthen grid reliability

By Rebecca Goold, clean energy consultant

Last week, a federal judge protected Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act, which is expected to grow the state’s solar capacity to over 3,000 MW by 2030 – enough to power approximately half a million homes.

The expected influx in distributed resources like solar panels prompted the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to set in motion NextGrid, an 18-month study focused on rethinking the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st-century electric grid.

A large part of NextGrid involves advanced technologies like the smart inverter, a disruptive technology with the potential to improve grid reliability, create economic value for customers, and lower pollution. Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

New plan could double $2.5 billion energy efficiency success in Illinois

By Christie Hicks and Dick Munson

Just how valuable is energy efficiency? To the customers of ComEd, Illinois’ largest electric utility, efficiency’s value is in the billions – $2.5 billion, to be exact.

That’s how much ComEd customers have saved to date through the utility’s energy efficiency program, and thanks to a new plan under the Future Energy Jobs Act, more savings – and less pollution – are on the way.

ComEd agreed to invest $350 million each year for the next four years in energy efficiency programs, resulting in new initiatives that “will nearly double savings for customers and reduce electricity use in Illinois by 21 percent by 2030.” Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency / Read 1 Response

What’s next for NextGrid – Illinois’ ‘Utility of the Future’ process

Many experts anticipate the electric utility industry evolving more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 100.

So noted the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), when it recently initiated the “NextGrid” Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid is a statewide, collaborative effort to rethink the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st-century electric grid.

The ICC invited stakeholders to participate in NextGrid, welcoming suggestions for how the process should work. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), partnering with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), recommended NextGrid ensure that upcoming technological advances enable a more dynamic grid – one that is cleaner, affordable, reliable, equitable, and more responsive to customer needs. But how do we get there? Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed