ComEd, off-grid lights and Community of the Future


US utility ComEd has installed off-grid lights at Beethoven and Bronzeville’s Dunbar Vocational High School.

The project is part of the Community of the Future pilot initiative.

The pilot includes the use of smart grid technologies to create connected, green and resilient networks whilst developing interests and skills among students within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math sector.

The off-grid lights are powered by 30-foot-tall remote power units (RPU), miniature power plants sourcing energy from a wind turbine, solar panels and battery storage.

The RPU powers its own internet connectivity to monitor and control its operation.

The integrated RPU, wind, solar and battery storage system is intelligent and provides enough energy to power the light for up to five days with no generation.

The off-grid lights were installed in partnership with ARIS Renewable Energy.

Beethoven Elementary School Principal Mellodie Brown, said: “We thank ComEd for enhancing the safety of our campus with leading edge renewable energy-powered lighting.

“Our science teachers will enjoy using the lights and the data collected from the solar and wind production and battery charging to design class lessons related to environmental science and sustainability.”

“We hope this innovative lighting solution will not only light up the physical paths students walk on, but show them that STEM isn’t just something you study in a classroom; it can transform everything from the internet to your walk to school,” said Shay Bahramirad, vice president, engineering and smart grid, ComEd.

Under the Community of the Future pilot, ComEd is also testing:

  • A microgrid to enhance grid security and resilience
  • An electric vehicle transportation service for seniors
  • A community energy storage system
  • An interactive kiosk that provides real-time information, emergency alerts, wayfinding and free Wi-Fi