The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Smart grid project moves closer toward implementation

A project to demonstrate the potential cost savings of electric smart grid technologies has taken a step closer to implementation in Oak Park.

Pecan Street Inc., a not-for-profit organization credited with creating the national model for smart grid project planning, implementation and management, has been hired to assist in preparing to launch the Oak Park Smart City USA Project, which will link as many as 200 Oak Park homes and residential buildings into a neighborhood smart grid.

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. State grants and private funds will help support the project.

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 micro-grid featuring two-way information and energy flow. Their aggregated energy data and usage would be managed through a cloud-based network operating center, which may include a public monitoring screen at Village Hall.

More than 300 Oak Park property owners already have expressed an interest in participating via an online form at that gathered information to ensure the property was compatible with the program’s basic needs.

Pecan Street, which was chosen through a competitive bid that attracted four companies, manages a research network of more than 1,200 volunteer homes in Texas, California and Colorado. In Austin’s Mueller neighborhood, where the effort launched four years ago, more than 200 homes have rooftop solar and more than 70 residents drive electric vehicles.

The $75,000 contract with Pecan Street, based at the University of Texas at Austin, is for critical planning, a key step in the implementation process. Given Pecan Street’s smart grid project implementation, management and oversight experience, this initial contract could lead to a broader, regional approach to smart grid technologies, officials said.

For more information on the Smart City USA project, email Information about Pecan Street Inc. is posted at