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ComEd boss touts smart grid at SXU

ComEd President CEO Anne Pramaggiore speaks about ComEd's Smart Grid plan 'Breakfast With The Experts' series St. Xavier University Chicago

ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore speaks about ComEd's Smart Grid plan at the "Breakfast With The Experts" series at St. Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, Thursday, October 18, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Updated: November 20, 2012 10:54AM



ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore visited St. Xavier University on Thursday, touting the company’s plan for a “smart grid” and “smart meters,” and saying both could make life better for customers.

Pramaggiore spoke as part of the university’s “Breakfast with the Experts” series, which is co-hosted by the Beverly Area Planning Association.

Replacing electric meters with “smart meters” that can tell consumers how much electricity they use at a given time and report power outages back to ComEd is a key part of the plan.

But only 130,000 smart meters have been installed, and there are about 4.1 million meters in the system, she said.

Installation of smart meters is on hold pending a request from ComEd to the Illinois Commerce Commission to reverse an earlier decision regarding a rate cut.

ComEd had proposed a decrease in its electricity rates totalling $40 million to $50 million, but the ICC in May decided to cut rates by four times that amount, for a total of $168.6 million.

On Oct. 3, the ICC shrank the rate cut 21 percent, to $133 million, but the cut should be smaller, ComEd has argued.

ComEd is hopeful more cash is eventually freed up so it can continue installing the smart meters.

“We’re looking to get this resolved fast,” Pramaggiore said.

“There are some real dollars in the other issues. They don’t affect us in a big way immediately, but they start to build in 2013 and by 2014 it would be $100 million a year that we’re missing in funding,” she said after her speech.

ComEd’s rate of 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour is half of what’s paid in New York, she said. ComEd wants a modest increase, she said, but not equal to the New York rate.

The smart meters would be part of ComEd’s plan to make $2.6 billion in improvements to its electricity distribution system over the next 10 years.

“It’s important to people to see there’s change going on in the industry. We’re usually the business that gets attention when there’s an outage,” she said.

Pramaggiore noted consumers have more options for purchasing electricity and that ComEd does not have any issues with customers switching suppliers. No longer in the power generation business, ComEd’s role strictly is in the distribution of electricity. Customers who change power suppliers, such as through their community’s electric aggregation program, still are billed by ComEd for distribution charges.

Greg Fischer, owner of Beverage Arts in Beverly, said using smart meters may help his and other companies save money on electricity.

“It’s nice to know what power you’re using and when you’re using it. A business could do a job at a different time and save substantially,” he said.



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