By Anna Lothson
Oak Park has entered into an agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that will help take Oak Park's smart grid project to the next level.
The village board approved receiving a grant for $112,389 from the DCEO specifically designated for Oak Park's smart grid demonstration project being launched in partnership with the Korea Smart Grid Institute, which is referred to as the Smart City USA project.
K.C. Poulos, Oak Park's sustainability manager, said the grant will allow Oak Park to launch its recruitment for the smart grid project and eventually install about 10 solar batteries in the selected homes.
Oak Park secured a letter of intent in June 2012 from the Korea Smart Grid Institute, and in October the group signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to continue to move the proposed project forward. The Smart City USA designation has the potential for Oak Park to be a test bed for energy production technologies.
This process involves having 200 single family and multi-family homes using a renewable energy and battery system that generates, tracks and stores energy to increase a home's electric output. The residential project would involve the installation of rooftop solar panels connected to a converter and battery storage backup system that is also interconnected with ComEd's electrical grid.
Overall, according to Poulos' report, this project is expected to include an investment of $4 million in energy saving improvements in the village over the next two years. It also has the potential for the village to sell aggravated stored energy to the regional market.
"Oak Park is fortunate to be at the epicenter of a technology development and job creation engine," Poulos said.