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ComEd Announces Completion Of Neighborhood Scale Community Microgrid In Bronzeville, Chicago

June 3, 2024
The project will integrate renewable energy, battery energy storage into the grid, providing enhanced power resiliency to approximately 1,000 customers on the City of Chicago’s south side.

ComEd has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the City of Chicago and the community of Bronzeville to achieve completion of the Bronzeville Community Microgrid (BCM), a neighborhood scale community microgrid, at the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA’s) Dearborn Homes property.

The property supports the project with energy generated by rooftop and ground-mounted solar systems. The BCM was funded, in part, through DOE grants.

“The Bronzeville Community Microgrid has a tangible effect on the Chicago Housing Authority’s operations budget for Dearborn Homes, where these rooftop and ground-mounted arrays are generating about 10 percent of the annual electrical usage across 17 buildings, which are home to 660 families,” said CHA CEO, Tracey Scott.

“The Bronzeville microgrid plays an essential role in preparing communities for an equitable clean energy transition and will deliver important benefits to boost power resiliency for over 1,000 customers on the City of Chicago’s south side,” said Gil Quiniones, ComEd President and CEO.”

Bronzeville includes various critical infrastructures, including the Chicago Police headquarters, making grid resiliency a high priority. In 2025, the BCM will be connected to the microgrid at the nearby Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) to create a utility operated microgrid cluster, enabling a sharing of resources and enhanced resilience to grid disturbances.

The BCM is powered by 750 kW of solar photovoltaic from the rooftop and ground-mounted solar installations at Dearborn Homes with 500 kW/ 2 MWh of battery energy storage.

“Researchers from Argonne National Lab and the Illinois Institute of Technology were tasked with bringing the technology for this microgrid to life, and we now have a more resilient, self-sufficient, and cleaner grid,” said U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin.

ComEd partnered with Siemens USA to provide the software used to operate the microgrid management system integrating DERs and managing the islanding process. The software will also be used to cluster the BCM with the microgrid at IIT.

Recently, ComEd has conducted live field tests to demonstrate the role of DERs to support microgrid operations and enhance the resilience of the grid during disruptive events. The BCM completed the live tests, disconnecting and then reconnecting to the main power grid without any interruptions in service to customers.

The BCM supports an area surrounded from 33rd Street to the North, 38th Street to the South, State Street to the West, and South Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Drive to the East.

Bronzeville was selected following a comprehensive study to evaluate locations for a microgrid’s location. The study developed an overall resiliency metric for small sections of ComEd’s northern Illinois service territory and identified locations for a microgrid to address security and resiliency and supporting the public good.

The microgrid footprint includes 10 facilities providing critical services, including the Chicago Public Safety Headquarters, the De La Salle Institute and the Math & Science Academy, a library, public works buildings, restaurants, health clinics, public transportation, educational facilities, and places of worship.

The BCM is the backbone of ComEd’s Community of the Future Program, which leverages smart grid technology to enhance quality of life, supporting lab testing and field deployment of emerging technologies to support Bronzeville’s sustainability and clean energy goals. Pilot projects include off-grid wind and solar LED streetlights, multi-unit dwelling public EV chargers, and an indoor Agriculture Pod with advanced sensors.

The microgrid has also inspired educational opportunities for area youth, such as the Create a Spark STEM Program in which students collaborate with ComEd mentors to explore engineering and energy concepts.

About the Author


What is today ComEd began as the Western Edison Light Company, one of several companies owned by inventor and researcher Thomas Edison. As you may know, Edison experimented with electric currents and created an early light bulb that wasn't ready for mass use. It didn't last long enough. One of Edison's employees, African-American draftsman and engineer Lewis Latimer, perfected the longer-lasting carbon filament, which would revolutionize the world.

In July 1892, another Edison employee moved to Chicago to run Edison's local company, Chicago Edison. Sam Insull had a sharp business mind and eagerly increased his knowledge of electricity. Through improved marketing and increased demand for electric lighting, Commonwealth Edison was born in September 1907.

ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.

ComEd's service territory borders Iroquois County to the south (roughly Interstate 80), the Wisconsin border to the north, the Iowa border to the west and the Indiana border to the east.

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