CHICAGO, July 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined GE, Silver Spring Networks and ComEd today at a GE manufacturing facility on the south side of Chicago to announce new Smart Grid contracts that will bring millions of dollars of investment and new jobs to Chicago. GE announced today that it will manufacture smart meters on the city of Chicago's south side, and that it will seek to hire local residents to build these meters. Additionally, ComEd laid out the general schedule for installation of smart meters throughout the city of Chicago. The city's south side will start to receive the new meters in 2014 and will have the network fully in place by 2016; at that point the north side will begin to receive the meters and will have them by 2018. By 2018, each of the city's 1.3 million homes or businesses is expected to have a smart meter. " Chicago's new Smart Grid is substantially increasing economic opportunity for the City, by adding both manufacturing and professional jobs, opening new offices and facilities, and helping Chicago residents conserve electricity and save money," said Mayor Emanuel. "A modern, high-tech electric infrastructure is essential for Chicago's global economic competitiveness." ComEd and GE are partnering on a $200 million contract for GE to manufacture and deliver approximately 4 million smart meters, which ComEd will install for all customers beginning this September through 2021. GE will assemble the smart meters in Chicago at a south side factory, creating approximately 50 jobs. Smart meters provide timely data to electricity users about how much power they're using, giving customers more control over their energy use. Silver Spring Networks, which provides the technology platform for ComEd's smart grid network, will also open a new facility in Chicago that will house dozens of new technology jobs and a next-generation network operations center to serve Smart Grid projects in Illinois and across the Midwest. That facility, which was announced by Mayor Emanuel in January 2012, is being implemented now and is currently being staffed. "Our $2.6 billion Smart Grid investment will benefit Chicago—and all our customers—by strengthening the local economy, creating jobs, attracting new businesses to Chicago and giving more choice and control to our customers," said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. "In 2012, we initiated programs to improve our grid by adding new smart technology -- smart switches that reroute power in the event of outages and smart sensors that monitor critical equipment. We are excited to now launch our final and largest smart grid program -- smart meters -- and to begin to deliver the benefits they can bring to consumers." "The Illinois Smart Grid program will provide ComEd's customers with the benefits of a modern grid and help GE grow its local workforce in Chicago," said Mark Hura, general manager of sales in North America, GE Digital Energy. "This program allows us to be local with our customer by adding positions focused on the assembly of smart meters, a technology that offers a range of benefits to consumers such as shortened restoration time in the event of an outage. ComEd is a valued customer to GE, as demonstrated by our long standing relationship and our recent successful smart meter pilot program. We look forward to working with ComEd to make grid modernization a reality in Chicago, and all of ComEd's service territory." "As the leading company delivering the technology and network solutions that implement the smart grid, Silver Spring Networks is proud to be among the companies that are investing in Chicago, creating jobs and boosting the local economy," said Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO, Silver Spring Networks. "As we work with ComEd to begin full-scale deployment, we plan to open a new office in Chicago and establish a network operations center that will create dozens of new high-tech jobs." A smart meter is a digital electric meter that collects electricity usage information every 30 minutes and sends that information to ComEd through a wireless connection. Customers can get access to their individual usage data and electricity costs at any time, and make more informed decisions about how and when they use electricity. Additionally, when fully functional, smart meters will alert ComEd to power outages automatically—without requiring customers to contact ComEd—and help pinpoint the source of the problem so ComEd can restore power faster. Smart meters also eliminate estimated bills and cut down on electricity theft, saving ComEd and customers money.