Smart grid Consumer Education Fund ISEIF Announces Grants to Further Energy Literacy and Home Energy Management

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The smart grid will change how people consume electricity. Funds were awarded to help consumers in the journey to understand how they can take advantage.

Today the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF) announced the recipients of its latest round of grants to educate Illinois residents in the state’s transition to a digital, smart electric grid. Twelve grantee organizations will educate consumers about how they can take advantage of demand management programs, personal energy usage data, and home energy management technology in order to save money and energy in their homes. Over a million Illinois residents have already received smart meters, and nearly 1 million additional ComEd and Ameren Illinois customers will receive smart meters in 2016.

Across the country, aging electricity infrastructure is being updated to reduce blackouts, improve reliability, and reduce carbon emissions, otherwise known as the game-changing smart grid. This means new technological features including sensors, controls, and integrated communications capability, allowing real-time information to be better exchanged at all parts of the grid. Consumers will participate primarily through smart meters provided by the utility, over a million of which have been installed throughout the state. The updated smart meters will give consumers unprecedented control in managing their home energy through the availability of energy usage data, and new smart home and energy management technology such as smart thermostats and home sensors.

Organizations receiving grants this cycle are the City of Chicago, Cook County Department of Environmental Control, Citizens Utility Board, Elevate Energy, Faith in Place, Foresight Design Initiative, Institute of Cultural Affairs USA, Illinois Green Economy Network, Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Additionally, the United States Green Building Council’s Illinois chapter will receive funds as part of ISEIF’s small grants program.

The mix of programs will convey the value of the smart meters and energy efficiency programs to Illinois residents, through familiar channels such as community and faith-based organizations, universities, a K-12 curriculum, municipal governments, and public housing authorities. “Each organization represents a unique consumer education tactic or demographic reach. By funding them we’re supporting diverse messengers reaching consumers in multiple languages and telling them there are opportunities to reduce energy usage and save money, while solving a massive energy challenge,” said Program Director Clare Butterfield.

ISEIF is committed to funding impactful programs that build energy literacy and prompt residents to take actions to reduce their personal energy usage. Executive Director Jason Blumberg explains measuring impact is an organizational mission, “we’re investing in the exercise of discovering which engagement methods actually cause people to reduce their energy usage, and collecting as much data as possible about that engagement over time. As other states and countries shift to a smart grid, we’ll have best practices to share with them about how to get consumers, especially low-income and senior populations, engaged.”

About 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.

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Uzma Noormohamed
@ISEIFoundation
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