Sustainability • EnergyInitiatives / Programs

Smart Grid Consumer Education Program

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The Illinois power grid is getting an upgrade! The smart grid is a technologically enhanced electric grid that provides two-way communication between consumers and utility providers. The smart grid is able to communicate directly with utility providers through wireless communication to identify and prevent power outages, recognize equipment that needs replacement, and allow consumers to have more control over their energy usage. There are many benefits of the smart grid, including having more control over energy usage, saving money on energy costs due to pricing programs offered by utility providers, and better efficiency and reliability resulting in reduced power outages.

The Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) is implementing the Smart Grid Consumer Education Program, through funding from the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF). ISEIF’s mission is to empower consumers to understand and adopt smart grid technologies and related programs; to create positive changes in consumer behavior related to patterns of energy use; and to transform cultural norms regarding the relationship between the consumer, the utility, and energy consumption. The program’s objectives are to ensure communities are educated regarding the smart meter deployment process/schedule, connect consumers with smart grid-related resources, and encourage behavior change related to energy usage.

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Currently, in the program’s fifth year, the program consists of the following components:

  • Illinois community colleges across the state are participating in the program, in both Ameren and ComEd service territories.
  • Most participating colleges host a “Smart Gridology” kiosk, designed to educate consumers about the smart grid and smart meters. The kiosks are three-sided, including basic information about Illinois’ smart grid, an interactive experience, a comparison of an analog and smart meter, and a list of various smart products and technology for the home.
  • All participating colleges utilize “You’ve Got the Power” kits, designed to provide compact, easy-to-use educational information about the smart grid and smart meter technology to consumers in Illinois. The kits are made available to Illinois community college faculty, staff, students, and community members through classrooms, events, and meetings. Each kit includes the following:
    • Resource guide
    • USB flash drive with PowerPoint presentation and supplementary materials
    • iPad Air to access the Smart Power Illinois website
    • Smart meter shell
    • Rainforest Automation EMU-2 demonstration device

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  • The Smart Power Illinois website was launched in 2014 to inform consumers that the Illinois power grid is getting an upgrade and provide information on how the smart grid and smart meter technology affects them.
 

For more information, please contact Katie Davis at kdavis5@clcillinois.edu / (847) 543-2645.

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