ComEd, Regional Partners Win $500,000 Federal Award to Advance Planning for Electric Vehicles in Northern Illinois

ComEd, in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the Respiratory Health Association (RHA), Argonne and Oak Ridge national laboratories, announced it has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive one of just seven awards made nationally through the federal Clean Energy to Communities (C2C) initiative.

The $500,000 federal award will support regional efforts to understand and inform strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost the adoption of all-electric transportation options, including electric vehicles (EVs), to achieve a federal goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"The C2C award reinforces the collaborative efforts by ComEd and our partners in the region as we seek to remove barriers to adoption of EVs and other zero emissions technologies,” said Gil C. Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. "This competitive award will help accelerate the growth of all-electric vehicles across northern Illinois, which will in turn improve air quality in our communities, particularly those most impacted by pollution, and bring us closer to achieving our climate action goals.”

The DOE’s C2C program supports community-driven projects – which include involvement from utilities, local governments, national lab experts and community partners – to drive solutions focused on the electrification of transportation, buildings and industry. ComEd is teaming up with CMAP, RHA, Argonne and Oak Ridge national laboratories to leverage regional climate expertise and leadership to research and inform new strategies to support added transportation electrification in the area, which can further address air quality issues stemming from pollution, while also working with experts to study the impact of increasing transportation electrification on the grid.

“With our partners, CMAP will be able to better inform its work around regional climate action planning to establish transportation emission reduction targets. And most importantly, help our region attain its climate goals and substantial health benefits for our communities,” said CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman.

Over the next three years, ComEd and its grant partners will conduct research and modeling to better understand the types and the scale of action needed to lower carbon emissions in the transportation sector. This multidisciplinary project will also help develop strategies beyond electrification, like promoting different modes of travel.

“Reducing air pollution from motor vehicles will benefit everyone who breathes—not just people living with asthma and other chronic lung diseases,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “The positive impact of this project will be felt throughout the Midwest, and particularly in poorer communities where vehicular traffic is disproportionately heavy.”

Nationwide, transportation is now the largest single source of planet-warming gases, and transportation accounts for 32% of northeastern Illinois’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, further complicated by the Chicago region’s role as a freight and logistics hub. Recent studies reveal that the transition to electric vehicles in Illinois has the potential to provide significant health benefits, with RHA finding as many as 400 premature deaths in Illinois each year due to air pollution from diesel engine emissions alone.

"Argonne is excited to provide the scientific expertise for C2C, which holds great potential to empower a more sustainable Chicago region,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. “Our research is driving decarbonization in transportation and many additional sectors, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with ComEd and our other partners. Together, we're opening new frontiers for America's clean energy future.”

Expanding electrification is a critical action to help meet federal climate goals, set forward by the Biden-Harris administration, to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Illinois has also embraced policies to help address the impacts of climate change and improve air quality, with the state’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act calling for 1 million EVs on the roads by 2030 and significantly reducing emissions by 2050.

“The Department of Energy and partner national laboratories developed the C2C program to help communities achieve their clean energy goals,” said Johney Green, associate laboratory director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which manages the C2C program for DOE. “ComEd’s participation in C2C supports the community’s role as primary decision makers throughout the project and ensures that they can select a pathway forward with confidence in partnership with their utility.”

With demand for EVs and electrification on the rise, ComEd is helping individuals, families and businesses take advantage of new, all-electric technologies that are demonstrated to lower pollution, enhance air quality, and generate net savings for customers using them. ComEd’s three-year, $231 million investment in electrification, finalized earlier this year, sets forward various customer programs and incentives designed to help remove barriers to electrification, with a goal of accelerating EV adoption and charging availability across the region. ComEd also recently teamed up with regional partners, the Illinois Green Alliance and Elevate, to launch the new Building Performance Hub, an effort to advance sustainable building practices, and also supported by the DOE.

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