AMSC, a global energy solutions provider serving wind and power grid industry leaders, announced that ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp. and one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, has agreed to develop a deployment plan for AMSC’s high-temperature superconductor technology to build a superconducting cable system that will strengthen Chicago’s electric grid.
The Resilient Electric Grid (REG) effort is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s work to secure the nation’s electric power grids and improve r0esiliency against extreme weather, acts of terrorism or other catastrophic events.
“Modernizing our region’s electric grid is part of ComEd’s vision to strengthen power reliability and to connect our customers and this region to the 21st-century digital economy,” said Anne R. Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd. “We view this project as a natural extension of the infrastructure improvements and technological upgrades that have been under way for the past two years as we develop and deploy the smart grid. Linking our critical urban infrastructure to this superconductor system would provide added reliability, resiliency and security to Chicago’s Central Business District, an essential economic engine for the state and region.”
The current design of the grid infrastructure in many U.S. cities makes restoration of power after a catastrophic event time-consuming, costly and unpredictable. Led by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the REG is a self-healing solution that provides resiliency in the event that portions of the grid are lost for any reason. The ComEd installation would be the first commercial application of the advanced technology in the United States.
AMSC President and CEO Daniel P. McGahn said he values the partnership with ComEd.
“This project establishes ComEd as the lead utility in our program with DHS and speaks to the unique benefits of AMSC’s technology in addressing critical challenges facing the power grid,” McGahn said. “As provided in the DHS contract, AMSC will initiate a similar deployment plan with at least two other U.S. utilities.
“Utilities around the world are investing tens of billions of dollars on smart grid technology designed in part to create a more redundant and resilient grid. We believe that the Resilient Electric Grid system, which is enabled by AMSC’s unique high-temperature superconductor technology, has the potential to play a significant role in protecting the infrastructure assets so vital to our electrical systems. Together with the leadership from DHS and ComEd, we believe AMSC is now in a position to offer this system solution to cities in America and around the world.”
ComEd Chief Operating Officer Terence R. Donnelly said the installation does more than just provide reliable power and increased security.
“This installation of more than 3 miles of superconductor cable would create the most extensive superconductor project of this nature in the world,” he said. “ComEd’s transformation of our business relies heavily on technology and innovation. In this era of increasingly intense weather events and other potential catastrophic occurrences, this project will not only support the city of Chicago but can serve as a model to enable widespread implementation of the superconductor technology nationally and globally.”
ComEd provides service to some 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population including Chicago.