Chicago Crusader staff report
More power is coming to Bronzeville. ComEd is building a $10.4 million microgrid in the historic Black neighborhood, hoping to keep the Chicago Police Department and other important buildings running during mass power outage.
To help build the microgrid, ComEd received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. It will be located near the Illinois Institute of Technology and will initially use solar power and storage to serve about 800 customers and perhaps more, Michelle Blaise, senior vice president of Technical Service at ComEd said in news reports.
A bill introduced in the Illinois General Assembly aims to allow ComEd to spend $300 million to create six microgrids. If the bill passes, ComEd would boost Bronzeville’s grid to 10 mega watts and expand its user base to 1,200 customers.
The microcrid will be the latest system to go up in Bronzeville. Illinois Tech already has a functioning microgrid and will help ComEd with the project. The school spent $15 million on its microgrid.
In addition to the $4 million grant to build the microgrid in Bronzeville, ComEd received a $1.2 million grant in 2014 to work with the university and Argonne National Laboratory to develop a master control system that will allow the two microgrids to share power.
A microgrid is a group of buildings and electrical sources that function separately from a larger grid. Energy officials say microgrids help reduce energy losses in transmission and distribution, further increasing efficiency of the electric delivery system. It’s a system that the U.S. Department of Energy wants to increase in cities around the country as part of its Sunshot Initiative.