chicago school of business

ComEd Hosts Innovation Forum

Sept. 25, 2014
Forum brings together leading technology and innovation companies from Silver Spring Networks, Oracle, NestLabs, Home Depot, GE Energy, and the Energy Foundry and representatives from the City of Chicago, Citizens Utility Board and Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative

ComEd, in partnership with Silver Spring Networks and Accenture, hosted its SmartGridExchange Forum, bringing together leading technology and innovation companies, including Oracle, NestLabs, Home Depot, GE Energy, and the Energy Foundry, with other customer and stakeholder organizations, including the City of Chicago, Citizens Utility Board and Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, to discuss how to leverage the smart grid to deliver increased value to consumers.

The forum was held on Sept. 5 at the University of Chicago School of Business, Gleacher Center, and served as the kick-off to ComEd’s SmartGridExchange, a collaborative initiative between ComEd, technology companies, universities and customers to spur innovation that will shape what the electric grid of the future will offer.

“The SmartGridExchange represents a deliberate effort to co-design a smart energy future with our customers and with the businesses that we’re counting on to bring new value to those customers,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customer Operations, ComEd. “The investment that we are making on behalf of our customers in smart grid technology is a platform for product and service innovation that will unlock value that we’re only beginning to glimpse; the SmartGridExchange is the way we hope to bring the best thinking to this challenge.”

Forum discussions highlighted the need to build a customer energy ecosystem that will allow businesses to develop new energy products and solutions, and allow utilities to enable this innovation.

“Utilities are uniquely positioned to bring modern technologies to their communities for economic growth, environmental sustainability, and citizen empowerment opportunities,” said Scott Lang, Chairman, President and CEO, Silver Spring Networks. “By leveraging a standards-based multi-application network for their smart grids, utilities can establish a territory-wide platform for improved grid reliability, increased energy efficiency, and the delivery of new services such as intelligent street lighting, smart parking, and improved traffic and transportation systems over time."

David Kolata, executive director of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board added “The Smart Grid is an entrepreneurial vision, where the utility facilitates rather than doing. We need to make sure the utility is building a system that will allow entrepreneurs to innovate to bring value to customers.”

Discussion topics also included, “Innovating the Infrastructure to Support Customer-Side Innovation,” “Driving Customer Value through Smart Meter Data,” “The Connected Home: Where the Smart Meter Meets Customer-Side Innovation,” “Customer and Stakeholder Perspectives,” and “Local Innovation,” where local tech incubators and entrepreneurs representing Root3, the Energy Foundry and Blue 1647 discussed how they are supporting home-grown smart technology innovations in Illinois to create a thriving community of developers that can take Smart Grid technology and translate it into useful tools customers can use.

“ComEd’s SmartGrid infrastructure serves as an innovation platform for Root3 and other startup companies,” added Archie Gupta, CEO of Root3. “As entrepreneurs, it is now our job to build on this platform and bring new products and services to market for customers.”

SmartGridExchange Forum presenters included:

Ed Abbo, president and chief technical officer, C3

Andrew Baynes, director of business development and energy efficiency, NestLabs

Ty Benefiel, CEO, Meter Genius

Erik Birkerts, executive vice president and COO, Clean Energy Trust

Jason Blumberg, CEO and managing director, Energy Foundry

Emile Cambry, CEO, Blue 1647

Patty Durand, executive director, Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative

Rodger E. Smith, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities

Sonny Garg, senior vice president, chief innovation and information officer, Exelon Corporation

Abhay Gupta, founder and CEO, Bidgely

Archie Gupta, CEO, Root3

Robert Kelter, senior attorney, ELPC

David Kolata, executive director, Citizens Utility Board

Eric Krauss, director of IT product management, Accenture

Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO, Silver Spring Networks

Randy Light, senior merchant, Home Depot

Yoav Lurie, CEO, Simple Energy

Naomi Manley-Casimir, director, Accenture Innovation Centre for Utilities

John McDonald, director of Technical Strategy and Policy Development, GE Energy

Timothy Porter, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy

Timothy Porter, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy

Bill Richardson, vice president of Marketing, Rainforest

Joe Svachula, vice president of smart grid, ComEd

Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer, City of Chicago

According to ComEd, the SmartGridExchange is a long-term initiative to create customer value using collaboration, facilitation, enablement, information, internal development, and delivery of new products and services. In addition to the Forum, the SmartGridExchange includes additional initiatives, including a ComEd-sponsored “Student Innovation Contest” and partnership with Nest.

ComEd launched its “Student Innovation Contest” in May to generate ideas from local college students for using smart meter technology to reach low income customers. Forty-four student teams submitted ideas and proposals to help low-income customers use their home’s smart meter to manage their electric bills and save. The top five will compete before industry leaders and entrepreneurs at an award show in October for a share of $10,000 in prize money.

In addition, more than 3,000 ComEd customers participated in its pilot with the Nest this summer, where they received $140 in rebates for purchasing a Nest Learning Thermostat and participating in its demand response program. They also received a $100 rebate from ComEd for signing up to participate in ComEd’s Smart Ideas® AC Cycling Pilot that features Nest’s Rush Hour Rewards, and an additional $40 rebate for participating in the pilot all summer.

Other elements of the SmartGridExchange will include announcements later this fall of new smart meter-enabled products and services available to ComEd customers.

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