Smart Grid Program Created Nearly 2,700 Jobs In First Quarter 2013

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

ComEd has announced that work related to the Smart Grid program created nearly 2,700 full-time equivalent jobs in the first quarter of 2013. These include nearly 900 direct full-time equivalent jobs at the utility and its contractors as submitted in a report to the Illinois Commerce Commission, plus nearly 1,800 indirect full-time equivalent positions.

The report showed that the grid modernization program produced 896 full-time equivalent positions, including 313 at the utility and 583 at its contractors. In addition, based on the proportion of direct to indirect jobs created by the program in 2012, ComEd estimates that 1,792 indirect jobs were generated in the first quarter among a variety of businesses that benefit from the ripple effect of capital spending. Throughout 2012, the Smart Grid program created 785 full-time equivalent jobs at the utility and its contractors along with an estimated 1,700 indirect jobs.

“The Smart Grid program continues to create new opportunities at ComEd, among labor and supplier partners, and at other businesses benefitting indirectly as we build a 21st century electric grid,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. “This important work is strengthening our system, improving reliability and helping keep Illinois competitive in a digital economy that requires high quality electric service.”

Smart Grid job creation will continue to grow with the enactment of Senate Bill 9, which will put the program back on track by clarifying language in the original law. Smart Grid deployment, which began in January of 2012, has provided an important boost to local manufacturers and service providers with the expertise needed to support the electrical system upgrade.

“Because of the Smart Grid program, we are working with ComEd to accelerate the installation of distribution automation technology, which is recognized globally for the customer benefits it provides,” said John Estey, executive chairman of S&C Electric Company in Chicago. “The technology creates a self-healing capability that is already reducing the frequency and duration of customer interruptions in northern Illinois.”

The Smart Grid law passed in 2011 authorized ComEd to invest $2.6 billion over 10 years to modernize the electric grid in northern Illinois, over $1.3 billion of which is earmarked to build a Smart Grid network and install smart meters in four million homes and businesses.

ComEd’s grid modernization plan for 2013 includes $148 million in capital investments dedicated to system reliability, including the inspection and refurbishment of cable, poles and manholes, along with storm hardening to improve resiliency of circuits especially susceptible to storms.

The utility will also invest approximately $80 million in Smart Grid technology this year, including the digital upgrading of two ComEd substations with micro-processor relays. ComEd  also will add more than 600 distribution automation devices that automatically reroute power around potential problem areas, often with no noticeable interruption in service.