ComEd recently joined Digital Realty, the largest global provider of cloud- and carrier-neutral data center, colocation, and interconnection solutions, and community members to cut the ribbon on a new electrical substation that provides more power capacity to support future growth and operation of data centers in the region. The 4-acre substation is located on Digital Realty’s data center campus and delivers new transformer technology and electrical upgrades that are essential to meeting growing demand.
The new substation marks another milestone in ComEd’s work to support the growth of the data center industry in northern Illinois, which has seen meteoric growth in recent years. ComEd has supported the launch of 16 new data center projects in the past two years, including six projects in 2021 alone which are bringing more than $2 billion in local capital investment to the region.
"Through our continued investments to modernize grid infrastructure, ComEd is delivering reliable, clean and affordable power that 9 million people count on, while making our region more attractive for new investment and the jobs that come with it," said Gil Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “We know that data centers have many location options, but companies like Digital Realty continue to choose northern Illinois thanks to the state’s incentives as well as the investments we’re making to deliver industry-leading reliability, with access to infrastructure and clean energy needed to meet the demands of today’s customers. We thank Digital Realty for their continued confidence in northern Illinois and look forward to supporting their continued growth in the area.”
Digital Realty has over 300 facilities in 27 countries across six continents. The Franklin Park facility is one of seven sites the company owns in northern Illinois, and plans are underway to expand an existing site in Chicago’s South Loop. The commissioning of the new substation in Franklin Park will help Digital Realty meet growing customer demand as the company expands its footprint to serve additional customers.
“Northern Illinois and Franklin Park, in particular, are critical to Digital Realty’s and our customer’s businesses,” said Bill Stein, CEO of Digital Realty. “We look forward to continued partnership with ComEd and others throughout the region to ensure our data center facilities deliver on the needs of our global customers while continuing to drive economic benefits for those in the region.”
Hundreds of ComEd employees and its contractors logged a total of over 60,000 hours designing and building the substation. Construction was led by general contractor, MJ Electric, with participation by several diverse-owned, local suppliers, including Heels and Hard Hats, Stevenson Energy and Sonoma Underground Services. New transmission system improvements, including delivery of new transformers, will support Digital Realty’s campus and customers through enhanced regional reliability.
“We are grateful that ComEd has provided our community with the infrastructure to power new growth industries in Franklin Park. Your support has allowed us to foster valuable partnerships with companies like Digital Realty,” said Franklin Park Mayor Barrett Pedersen. “Together, we have kickstarted the revitalization of the eastern stretch of Grand Avenue with the removal of dated utility poles and the introduction of a state-of-the-art, high technology campus that Digital Realty calls home. We look forward to continuing this partnership and creating new opportunities for quality employment, redevelopment, and beautification in Franklin Park.”
This project marks the latest in a series of new substations created to establish the infrastructure needed to accommodate rapid growth of data centers and other industries in northern Illinois. Investments in infrastructure are helping yield the highest levels of reliability in ComEd’s history – with ComEd delivering record-high reliability performance for first nine months of 2022, and customers today seeing fewer outages than ever before as a result. Overall, investments to strengthen the grid over the past decade have helped customers to avoid 18.8 million outages, contributing to $3 billion in savings due to avoided outages.
Data centers continue to thrive in the region, thanks to relatively few natural disasters, competitive costs that fall lower than other metropolitan areas, and a new state data center incentive enacted in 2019. ComEd currently powers over 70 data centers in the region, and thanks to trending growth, the Chicago metro area is ranked in the top five for global data center markets.