Illinois: America's heartland and energy hub?
The Midwestern U.S. state is working hard to convince the rest of the country of just that as it prepares for a massive smart meter rollout that it says will lead to "the most comprehensive smart grid deployment in the U.S.," according to the Illinois Institute of Technology's Mohammad Shahidehpour.
“Illinois has quickly has become a hub for the R&D, manufacturing, development and financing of smart grid and energy projects," Shahidehpour said, adding, "we can use our existing intellectual and human capital to ensure we serve as a model for the rest of the world.”
That's a lot of bragging by any measure, but there is some degree of walk to back the talk. The Illinois Smart Grid Regional Innovation Cluster last week released the “Illinois Smart GridMarket Inventory,” which attempts to draw a line between smart grid instrastructure deployment and economic development, finding that there are 190 energy-related companies and 95 R&D firms in Illinois that could "potentially benefit" from a smart grid.
Highlights from that report:
But there's no need to convince anybody: the state already passed the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act authorizing its two major utilities, ComEd and Ameren, to spend $3.2 billion to update the state’s electricity infrastructure over the next 10 years. (The law also created a $22.5 million investment fund to support companies working on the technology.)
Can Illinois really lead the nation in smart grid tech? It's not far-fetched. As the geographic hub of the Midwest, with close proximity to wind farms and a sizable pool of manufacturing industry workers, the state certainly has much going for it. But the question, as in any other state, is whether it can rapidly align policy, pricing and buildout to minimize pain along the way -- and whether it can set aside its own ego to work with neighboring states to further the region as a whole.
Steal this idea! Illinois takes steps to become a major smart grid hub [Smart Grid News]
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com