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Solar energy project supports microgrid in Chicago’s Bronzeville

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In a first of its kind public and private sector innovation project for
Chicago, the Dearborn Homes public housing development that serves more
than 600 families in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, is producing
clean, renewable energy from the sun with private solar panels primarily
on its rooftops. This solar installation completed this month supports
ComEd’s Bronzeville Community microgrid,
a small power grid that can generate its own power to keep electricity
flowing to customers and support critical public services when there’s
an interruption on the main grid.

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is partnering with Chicago-based VLV
Development – a veteran-owned, diversity-certified business – to
finance, design and maintain the solar installation project at Dearborn
Homes, the first Chicago public housing community built after World War
II. The solar installation is expected to have a generation capacity of
750 kilowatts and will help power the property’s 17 buildings, including
660 residential units.

“This project illustrates how communities, government and local
businesses can come together to transform properties with clean energy
solutions that achieve multiple goals,” said Terence
R. Donnelly
, president and chief operating officer, ComEd. “This is
the model for the future, and we’re partnering with VLV to bring the
benefits of solar energy to our customers living in Dearborn Homes, the
CHA and the Bronzeville community.”

“This innovative partnership places CHA at the forefront of the clean
energy industry,” said CHA CEO Eugene E. Jones, Jr. “We are glad to take
these steps to ensure energy efficiency and better outcomes for our

The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) that went into effect in 2017 offers
incentives for the project that reduce upfront costs associated with
solar panel installation. VLV has installed 2.5 megawatts of solar
energy on multifamily and commercial buildings in Illinois and is
partnering with the North American Board of Certified Energy
Practitioners in workforce training programs funded by FEJA. Focused on
growing low-carbon energy, FEJA aims to power 1 million Illinois homes
by solar and wind energy by 2030.

Van Vincent, president and CEO of VLV Development, said solar power is
gaining traction in Illinois. “There is great momentum in our industry
and we’re excited to partner with the CHA and ComEd to support the
Bronzeville microgrid and bring clean energy to the community.”

The solar energy installation at Dearborn Homes is supported by a $4
million grant that ComEd received from the U.S. Department of Energy to
design and deploy solar and battery storage technology in a microgrid.
Construction of ComEd’s microgrid began in June 2018. The microgrid
project will be completed in 2020 and directly serve more than 1,000
households and businesses. The demonstration project will create
benefits for all ComEd customers as the company seeks effective ways to
further enhance grid security and resiliency in Illinois.

The Dearborn Homes solar conversion brings another exciting dimension to
ComEd’s Community
of the Future
in Bronzeville, where the company collaborates with
residents to identify needs and opportunities to leverage smart grid
technology and related services. In addition to the microgrid,
technology pilots include an electric vehicle transportation service;
off-grid wind and solar LED streetlights; and outdoor interactive
displays providing community news, emergency alerts, way finding and
public Wi-Fi. The effort also supports educational programs promoting
development of STEM skills among area high school students.

ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), a
Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and
natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S.
ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern
Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information
and connect with the company on


ComEd Media Relations
(312) 394-3500