Investments by utilities in Illinois to build a smarter, cleaner and more efficient power grid are now paying off, according to recent data. The state’s’ two largest utilities, along with rural cooperatives, have installed millions of smart electric meters, deployed thousands of intelligent power switching devices and launched new pricing programs since the Illinois Legislature passed one of the most progressive smart grid measures in the nation in 2011. Despite spending nearly $3 billion in infrastructure upgrades and smart-grid investments beginning in 2012, both Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois have managed to keep residential power bills in check. Adjusting for inflation, ComEd’s average residential rates last year were a quarter less than in 1995, and they remain 17 percent below average rates in America’s 10 largest cities. Ameren Illinois is requesting a rate decrease – its fifth since the smart grid bill’s passage – that will lower average monthly residential bills by approximately $1.70. Since beginning upgrades in 2012, ComEd reports that it has avoided 7.6 million outages and credited customers $1.2 million over the past two years for curtailing power use during high-demand hours.
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