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In September, CommonWealth Edison (ComEd) will begin a mass deployment of about 4 million smart meters across its service territory in Northern Illinois. The rollout is scheduled to continue through 2021 and is part of a $2.6 billion investment over 10 years.

ComEd's smart meter efforts had been delayed for some time. In October 2012, the utility announced it was postponing installations until 2015 after the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) denied ComEd certain cost-recovery funds. The utility's smart grid program is mandated under the state's Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2011, and ComEd argued the ICC decision was inconsistent with the law.

Earlier this year, the Illinois Senate and House passed S.B.9, a measure that, among other things, enables ComEd to recoup its costs. Even though Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the bill, both chambers of the state Congress overrode the governor and S.B.9 became law in May. ComEd immediately revealed plans to resume smart meter installations beginning in the fourth quarter.

On July 9, the utility announced a $200 million contract with GE for the approximately 4 million smart meters. GE will assemble the units at a factory in Chicago and expects to create about 50 jobs.

Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, highlighted the benefits of the partnership.

“Working side by side with GE, we are able to create a modernized grid that will improve reliability, provide new ways to save energy and money and benefit the Illinois economy,” Pramaggiore said in a statement.

In addition, Silver Spring Networks is opening a new office in Chicago to help ComEd and other utilities across the Midwest with their smart grid projects. The company is supporting ComEd with a networking platform and various smart grid applications. Silver Spring Networks says the new facility will create dozens of jobs.

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