Chicago to get a major smart grid makeover

Thanks to new legislation, a progressive utility, and smart grid firm Silver Spring Networks, Chicago is getting an energy makeover. The Chicago Tribune reports that at an event in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that utility ComEd will invest $2.6 billion into modernizing its power grid, including building out a smart grid using Silver Spring Network’s technology, and creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Silver Spring Networks has counted ComEd as a customer for awhile, but these deals take years to move from pilot stage to large scale roll out, and ComEd says it will start installing smart meters from a yet-to-be-disclosed meter maker in the fourth quarter of 2012. To build out the network Silver Spring will open up a Chicago office — its first outside of the Valley — which will employee between 30 to 50, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Along with the smart grid investment, ComEd and energy retailer Ameren will also create a $22 million venture fund that will invest in early-stage energy-focused entrepreneurs in the state. NRG Energy is the only other power producer and utility company I’ve heard of that is looking to do small-scale investing into innovation.
The expanded deal is good news for Silver Spring Networks in the new year, as Silver Spring filed an S-1 in the Summer of 2011, indicating it plans to go public, but has yet to attempt the public markets. Instead the company raised $24 million from investors in December.