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Smart grid projects open up opportunities, jobs

By Max Burkhalter
April 4, 2014

Beyond the obvious advantages that smart grid deployments are bringing to customers and utilities - from a reduction in waste to lower cost energy - many providers are finding that their investments are bolstering local economies and employment.

According to PennEnergy, an energy provider in Chicago recently announced that it's smart grid projects in 2013 allowed it to create an addition 2,871 jobs in a single year. About 1,000 of those positions were full time, while the rest consisted of contractor and indirect jobs in affected markets. This information came to light in the Illinois Commerce Commission's 2013 report on grid modernization.

With nearly $253 million in capital invested toward the smart grid initiative, over 2,800 careers being generated is a significant boon to the local economy in Chicago. The news source noted that many of these positions were in affected industries, which means that the improvements provided by smart grid deployment are having a profound impact on enterprises in every industry, not just utilities.

"From the very beginning of this program, one of our main objectives has been to create good-paying jobs across our service area, and we're very excited to report that we're exceeding the goals established by the Illinois General Assembly when it passed this important legislation," Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, the utility company, told the source. "We also have submitted a plan to accelerate the installation of smart meters this summer so we anticipate that this significant investment and expansive work under the Smart Grid program will remain a strong driver of economic growth for some time to come."

According to the report, the new plan would generate further savings for consumers of about $170 million but accelerating smart meter installation strategies from a completion date of 2020 to 2018. These increased investments are paying off, delivering higher-quality energy supply to customers, particularly businesses that are able to leverage these improvements for their own gain.

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