BOMA Chicago makes first non-utility smart grid bid

The building owners trade group is vying against hundreds of utilities to receive $92.7 million to integrate 260 downtown Chicago office buildings.

08/24/2009


The Building Owners and Managers Assoc. of Chicago ( BOMA Chicago ) is going where no non-utility has gone before-into line for a federal smart grid handout. According to a report in Greentech Media , BOMA Chicago and its partners are asking the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) for $92.7 million to help make a "virtual generator" out of 260 downtown office buildings. The money would come from DOE's smart grid investment grant program .

The idea is to install smart meters at those buildings and monitor and control them from a BOMA Chicago network operating center. That, of course, will require major upgrades to BAS and software. But being able to turn down those buildings' power in concert-along with adding backup generators, solar panels, or other distributed power generation sources to the upside-could offer demand response and energy efficiency savings of up to 20%, worth about $30 million a year in new revenue, the association claimed.

That gives it "more bang for the buck than any other program we have seen," BOMA Chicago executive vice president Michael Cornicelli said in a news release.

It's hard to say how an application for a business association-controlled smart grid system will play out against those being proposed by utilities themselves. BOMA Chicago does say that some of its 91 fellow chapters could replicate the project in their cities at a lower cost once the kinks are worked out, potentially multiplying its stimulating effects in a way utility-specific projects might not. Hundreds of utilities have applied , and added up, publicly announced requests have already exceeded the $3.4 billion available. The first set of grant winners is expected to be announced in October.

In Chicago, demand-response provider Metropolitan Energy would design, build, and run the network operations center, and Schneider Electric would be the contractor. The French power giant has also lined up BOMA's end of the $92.7 million commitment in financing through Bank of America and other sources, reports Crain's .





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