An electric grid to meet 21st century demands

The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act aims to enable Illinois to make major investments in the electric grid to ensure that it meets the demands of the 21st century economy and the state’s changing needs.

02/21/2011


ComEd applauded the introduction of legislation that aims to enable Illinois to make major investments in its electric grid over the next decade to ensure that it can meet the demands of the 21st century economy and the changing needs of business and residential customers.

The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (Illinois HB14 Amendment 1) would allegedly pave the way for badly needed energy infrastructure investment by creating a policy framework to reform electric utility regulation and facilitate the electric grid modernization program. The bill is sponsored by Kevin A. McCarthy, Illinois State Rep., 37th District. McCarthy is said to be confident that all parties can come together on a package that has both strong customer protections and a mandate to the utilities to invest in Illinois’ economic competitiveness and growth. The introduction of this legislation begins a dialogue on the best path to building a sustainable and technologically advanced grid.

ComEd reportedly said the digital economy is putting demands on the electric system that can only be met with significant capital investments in modern technologies and upgraded equipment. Much of Illinois' energy infrastructure is decades old and must be updated to meet the demands of a worldwide digital economy. Forty-four states are ahead of Illinois in developing solutions to advance their energy infrastructure, according to ComEd.

Anne Pramaggiore, president and chief operating officer of ComEd, has reportedly explained that the Illinois General Assemble has taken on the task of determining the proper policy path to make a 21st century electric grid a reality thanks to the introduction of this bill.

The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act would adjust the way electric rates are set using a formula mechanism modeled on the process the federal government uses for interstate transmission regulation. Such a process would make cost recovery more timely and predictable, while still maintaining Illinois Commerce Commission authority to set rates and consumer groups would continue to have the ability to challenge utilities' cost filings.

The regulatory reform called for in the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act is similar, in principle, to the reform of telecom regulation, which was the catalyst of the technology boom in the telecom industry that brought enormous benefits to consumers. Recently, President Obama called for regulation reform that protects consumers while reducing unreasonable burdens that stifle innovation and investment.

The Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act would create a regulatory process that would protect consumers, while assuring that Illinois utilities are investing, innovating and preparing our grid to compete in the new digitized world of commerce. According to ComEd, the legislation would spur billions in investment and create thousands of jobs and catapult Illinois to the top-tier of state-based Smart Grid development.

- Edited by Amanda McLeman, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, www.csemag.com



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