New Cohort of ISEIF Grantees Announced to Engage and Educate Illinois Residents about the Smart Grid

Industry: Environment

Programs will educate Illinois residents about the smart grid and new ways they can engage with emerging energy technology

Chicago, Illinois (PRUnderground) December 17th, 2014

Today the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF) announced its third cohort of grantees. The grantee organizations will educate consumers about the changes that will affect them as Illinois utilities Ameren and ComEd ramp up their smart meter deployments to nearly 1 million in 2015.

Funded projects span a range of approaches to educate and reach people across generations, in households with and without smart meters, and taking place in formal and informal settings. With a variety of projects, ISEIF will support small-scale house parties, outreach to communities of faith, a high school competition, a bilingual K-12 smart grid curriculum, and anthropologically based community outreach. The thirteen new outreach and education grant recipients are the Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, Cook County Department of Environmental Control, Citizens Utility Board, Elevate Energy, Faith in Place, Foresight Design, Hive Chicago Learning Network, the Institute of Cultural Affairs, the Illinois Green Economy Network, Illinois State University, Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, UIC Office of Sustainability, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ISEIF’s inaugural round of small grants will fund the Greater Chatham Alliance and the Peggy Notebaert Museum.

In 2015 Ameren and ComEd will install an additional 981,000 smart meters, bringing the statewide smart meter count to over 1.5 million by the end of the year. In total, 4.8 million Illinois households will be upgraded with smart meters as part of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2011.

The two-way communication in a smart meter allows consumers to receive usage data. During peak times, consumers can curb their use and save money and energy. Having access to both pricing and usage data enables consumers to better control how they use power, improving their ability to create savings, but consumers must first understand the value of these variable pricing programs and opt in to them. ISEIF grants aim to support programs that engage and motivate consumers to use energy more efficiently and understand their options as home energy technology undergoes a major shift. “The Illinois energy infrastructure upgrade is huge, but we’re just beginning to see what it will allow customers to do, and what they’ll choose to do when they understand their options. This group of grantees offers a diverse range of outreach approaches so that all kinds of Illinois consumers can start to define their new relationship to their energy providers,” said ISEIF Program Director Clare Butterfield.

Smart meters also allow for more complete home energy management, where a range of devices can be connected which provide information, automation, and improved efficiency to the home. “Consumer engagement and literacy has the potential to enable a strong connected home device market that can realize both cost and energy savings,” said Jason Blumberg, Executive Director of ISEIF.

Including this cohort, ISEIF has awarded 28 grants for education, outreach, and research, all dedicated to furthering consumer engagement of the smart grid. Details about individual projects can be found on ISEIF’s website, http://www.iseif.org/funded-projects/.

About Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF)

The Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF) is the largest independent smart grid consumer education fund in the country, dedicated to educating Illinois consumers on the benefits of a stronger electrical system that will save residents billions by reducing outages, increasing efficiencies, and providing faster restoration times. ISEIF was formed as a part of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2011 (EIMA), or, the Smart Grid Law, which mandated the creation of a $50 million fund ($5 million per year over ten years) to ensure consumers understand and have access to the benefits of the new smart grid and enhanced energy literacy. The EIMA statute requires a 30% allocation of total grants toward hard-to-reach populations such as low income and seniors.

Our 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. For more information visit www.iseif.org.

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