After Some Jitters, ComEd Serves More Than 1,000 Customers with Bronzeville Microgrid Islanded from Grid

ComEd Customers Microgrid Islanded Bronzeville Community

Ninalowo’s jitters were justified. Many in the industry and beyond have followed the Bronzeville microgrid project because it will provide power, when islanded, to customers in a residential and small business district in South Chicago, basically powering an entire neighborhood during outages.

“Other utilities have smaller scale microgrids,” said Ninalowo. “This is the first large microgrid serving a neighborhood with more than 1,000 customers.” 

Just as important, in 2025, the microgrid is expected to be capable of nesting with the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) microgrid located nearby. Right now, IIT is working on its own microgrid and is not yet ready to connect the two, said David O’Dowd, spokesman for ComEd.

With the microgrid connected to the IIT microgrid, both IIT and Bronzeville Community Microgrid customers could experience increased resiliency, he said. The microgrid clustering allows the two microgrids to operate islanded from the main utility grid but connected to each other, with each microgrid having its own controller.

The Bronzeville Community Microgrid, funded in part by a $4 million federal Department of Energy grant, consists of 750 kW of PV, a 500 kW/2 MWh energy storage system and 5 MW of dispatchable natural gas generation. The solar and storage are expected to keep the microgrid running for four hours. ComEd owns the battery, Enchanted Rock owns the natural gas generators, and the Chicago Housing Authority owns the solar PV. Siemens Energy and ComEd developed the microgrid’s master controller.

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