The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved an innovative collaboration that enables Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas to securely transmit natural gas meter data via ComEd’s smart grid communications network, creating new efficiencies and cost savings for gas customers and reducing carbon emissions. Together, the two natural gas providers serve more than 1 million customers, and the majority receive their electricity service from ComEd.
ComEd’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a combination of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems. It has played a key role in ComEd’s ability to deliver record-level reliability, fewer outages and improved customer satisfaction while keeping bills flat.
Up to now, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas have read their customers’ meters by driving a vehicle down every street and transmitting data from each meter via radio signal. AMI will remove that fleet of vehicles from the street, eliminating more than 580,000 driving miles per year and 626 tons of carbon emissions per year. In addition to helping the environment, the cost savings from the reduced driving and other efficiencies will more than offset the cost of AMI. Operational savings for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas — and in turn, their customers — will total an estimated $5.5 million per year.
Connecting to ComEd’s AMI network also will enable Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas customers to view analytics that detail their energy usage and help them control costs. Fewer in-person appointments will be needed as more tasks are able to be completed remotely.
“Using AMI will reduce costs for customers and enhance our level of service,” said Torrence Hinton, president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. “Combined with the environmental benefits, this is a great step forward for everyone we serve, and across the Chicago region.”
“Our smart grid investments offer value not only for our customers but for other Illinois utilities,” said Terence Donnelly, ComEd president and COO. “We are eager to demonstrate the benefits of this innovative solution to the customers we share with Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.”
North Shore Gas expects to complete the implementation of AMI by the end of 2023. Peoples Gas expects to finish implementation by the end of 2024. Installation of any new equipment required will occur in unison with other maintenance work, such as routine safety inspections.
The innovative collaboration between ComEd, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas to eliminate the cost of having two separate networks transmitting meter data will be a model for efficiency and environmental sustainability for utility companies across the United States.