200-Home Microgrid Coming To Illinois’ Oak Park

Oak Park’s Smart City USA project will demonstrate the potential cost savings of smart grid technologies.
Published: Wed 08 Oct 2014

Pecan Street Inc., a not-for-profit smart grid research organization located at The University of Texas at Austin, is to assist with preparations for the Smart City USA project for the Illinois Village of Oak Park, located on the western side of the city of Chicago.

The project, being undertaken in partnership with the Korea Smart Grid Institute (KSGI), will see up to 200 homes and residential building linked in a community microgrid that will test and demonstrate smart grid technologies, including solar power and energy storage.

“Having the demonstrated knowledge, experience and expertise in getting smart grid projects up and running is a major step toward achieving our goal of keeping Oak Park a leader in environmental initiatives,” said Village president Anan Abu-Taleb. “With Pecan Street’s assistance, we can move closer to implementing a project that will underscore the Village’s commitment to environmental sustainability.”

Smart City USA

Smart City USA began in 2010. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is also a partner along with KSGI, and coordination support is by the Wagner Institute for Sustainable Energy Research at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The project entails installing equipment such as solar panels with batteries that would allow residences to collect and store energy for personal use and to sell back to the grid during peak times. Property owners would not have to pay any equipment or installation costs. KSGI and state grants will help fund the project.

Community microgrid

Plans call for having 100 single-family homes and 100 multiple-family units participate, with the number of multi-unit buildings depending upon the number of units in each. Participants would form a microgrid featuring two-way information and energy flow. Their aggregated energy data and usage would be managed through a cloud-based network operating centre, which may include a public monitoring screen at Village Hall.

More than 300 Oak Park property owners already have expressed an interest in participating in the project.

The initial US$75,000 contract with Pecan Street is for critical planning, and could lead to a broader, regional approach to smart grid technologies.

Full implementation of the project is expected during 2015.