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Chicago-based ComEd reports that work related to its smart grid program resulted in more than 3,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the second quarter of this year.

In a report filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission, the company says these include more than 1,000 direct full-time equivalent jobs at the utility and its contractors, plus more than 2,000 induced full-time equivalent positions. This represents an additional 300 jobs over the first quarter, when the grid modernization program resulted in nearly 2,700 full-time equivalent positions.

According to ComEd, which recently began its full-scale deployment of 4 million smart meters, the increase can be attributed to the continued ramp-up in infrastructure and smart meter investments.

“Grid modernization is proving to be an even stronger economic engine than we anticipated,” says Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd. “It is creating good-paying jobs at ComEd and among our contractors, and these positions are having a significant ripple effect in the broader economy. The program will continue to make a positive economic impact, especially as we begin installing smart meters in 4 million homes and businesses in northern Illinois.”

ComEd says smart grid deployment, which began in January 2012, has provided an important boost to Illinois companies with the expertise needed to support the modernization, such as Intren Inc. A specialist in construction for the utility industry, Intren is playing a key role in ComEd’s accelerated efforts to refurbish and replace underground residential cable, which is reducing the number and length of power outages, the utility adds.

“Under ComEd’s grid modernization program, they’ve replaced hundreds of miles of underground cable so far this year, working at twice the normal rate,” comments Intren CEO Loretta Rosenmayer. “This increased investment resulted in work for 212 full-time equivalent positions at Intren in the second quarter, and we’re excited to be contributing to the important job of modernizing the electric system serving our region.”

Illinois' smart grid law passed in 2011, authorizing ComEd to invest $2.6 billion over 10 years to modernize the electric grid in northern Illinois, over $1.3 billion of which is earmarked to install its smart meters.

ComEd’s grid modernization plan for 2013 includes $148 million in capital investments dedicated to system reliability and storm hardening to improve resiliency of circuits especially susceptible to storms. This includes the inspection and refurbishment of cable, poles and manholes.

The utility says it will also invest approximately $118 million in smart grid technology this year, including the deployment of 60,000 of its smart meters. Further, ComEd will upgrade two additional substations with micro-processor relays and real-time monitoring and will add more than 600 smart switches that automatically reroute power around problems areas, often with no noticeable interruption in service.


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