Utility companies are plowing millions into the so-called “smart grid,” and a consumer group is pleased. Ameren is investing $22 million in its territory, upgrading lines and substations and adding capacity, and ComEd is already installing meters that can be read remotely, putting an end to estimated billing, and will alert the company to a power failure. The work is being done under the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, which was enacted in 2011.
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Jim Chilsen of the Citizens Utility Board says this is what we need, even though it will cost Com Ed residential customers $3 month more over the next 10 years, and Ameren customers about $3.40 more per month. “If we want a cleaner, more affordable, more reliable power grid, we’re not gonna get there without a smarter grid. We need to have that, and so this is the first step in a long journey,” he said. Among the benefits are supposed to be an opportunity for customers to see variable pricing by time of day, so they can run their appliances during off-peak hours and save money.