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ComEd: Smart meters could save customers $2.8 billion

Updated: September 10, 2011 12:38AM

Commonwealth Edison says customers could save $2.8 billion over 20 years if the utility installs “smart meters” that use digital technology to give homeowners details about their electric use and pricing, a study it commissioned shows.

ComEd paid for the study as required by the Illinois Commerce Commission as part of the utility’s smart-meter pilot test of 121,000 customers on Chicago’s West Side and nine near-west suburbs.

An Illinois Appellate Court in October 2010 killed the method in which the pilot program recovers its costs, and the pilot program ended May 31. The court ruled that the ICC erred when it allowed ComEd to charge all of its northern Illinois customers the expense of paying for the pilot program.

ComEd has appealed the court’s ruling, and is lobbying for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a bill that would allow ComEd to resume its smart-meter program and make underground-cable improvements.

ComEd has said that a system-wide smart-grid system — expected to take 10 years — would have cut the number of power outages in the July 11 storm by 100,000 to 175,000 out of a total 850,000 who lost electricity.

Quinn has said he will veto ComEd’s request for $2.6 billion in infrastructure improvements because he believes it would allow electric utilities to place increased annual profits over the interests of Illinois’ consumers and businesses.

“It is really about locking in guaranteed, significant annual profits for the utility companies without any real oversight by the Illinois Commerce Commission,” Quinn has said.

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