Chicago Inaugurates Unique Smart Meter Plan

Chicago Inaugurates Unique Smart Meter Plan

After years of seeing more ambitious energy saving proposals fail to materialize, including the Department of Energy’s rejection of a $90 million plan to equip all of BOMA’s 260 member buildings with smart meters, the association will test smart-meter technology in a pilot initially comprised of five downtown buildings. If all goes as expected, the pilot will expand to include 40 buildings.

Chicago Business reports, “The cost of equipping 40 buildings with the new technology and tracking their energy consumption is estimated at about $500,000, to be split among the association and the individual buildings.”

Commonwealth Edison has agreed to install the smart meters and Automated Logic is contracted to compile energy-usage and savings data gleaned from the pilot. BOMA has not yet disclosed the names of the participating buildings. The goal of the pilot is to show that landlords can significantly reduce power bills and possibly even generate revenue because power grid operators will pay the biggest power users to cut back during high-demand periods in the summer.

BOMA Executive Vice President Michael Cornicelli explains that since a deployment like this has not been done before, the association needed to show the majority of members it was a plan worth supporting for everyone. “The fact this has never been done before means we don’t have hard and fast data to give people yet but it’s certainly our belief that they will see returns in spades from this.”

Cumulatively, BOMA members consume about 1,000 megawatts of power during peak periods, mostly for heating and cooling. Cornicelli notes that if every BOMA member participates, they could reduce consumption by 20 percent, or 200 megawatts. In dollars and cents for an average downtown building of one million square feet that translates to a savings of approximately $200,000 in summer, nearly half of what the landlord would typically pay.

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