The Illinois House Public Utilities Committee in the US has passed a bill which will allow energy firm ComEd to build a smart grid in the state.
The House Bill 2529, which was passed by a vote of 21 to 0, will reinstate funding for a smart grid modernisation programme, which had recently been put on the back burner.
As part of the $2.6bn smart grid and systems upgrade passed by the Illinois Legislature in 2011, ComEd agreed to install around 4 million smart meters throughout its Chicago and Northern Illinois market regions.
But in its first Smart Grid law rate case, the Illinois Commerce Commission's interpretation of the law reduced funding by nearly $100m per year beginning in 2014 and beyond.
As a result, ComEd had to postpone deployment of key initiatives, including the installation of smart meters, until 2015.
The new House Bill, however, if enacted in the next few months, will enable ComEd to accelerate its meter installations to begin this year.
ComEd president and CEO Anne Pramaggiore said that the passage of the policy is a positive development for the company's customers and the entire state of Illinois.
"This legislation will help ComEd build a modern grid to reduce power outages, give customers more choice and control over their energy use, and create thousands of much-needed jobs," Pramaggiore added.
Illinois House of Representatives member Lou Lang, who sponsored the bill, said that it will boost Illinois's economy and provide better service for customers.
"This legislation resolves the issues that have threatened to delay Smart Grid," Lang added.
ComEd's modernisation efforts are designed to reduce outages by 700,000 per year and will allow customers to save an estimated $100m in outage-related costs.
Image: Despite the regulatory challenges, last year ComEd's $165m in grid modernisation efforts created more than 700 jobs. Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.