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Ameren Illinois says grid modernization delivering results


From Illinois Business Journal news services

COLLINSVILLE – Ameren Illinois says its customers are experiencing fewer and shorter power outages as a result of electric grid upgrades the company has implemented under the state’s Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act.

These reliability improvements are saving its customers an estimated $48 million each year, the company said recently.

Since the modernization program began in 2012, the installation of storm-resilient utility poles, automated switches, and an upgraded distribution grid have resulted in 238,000 fewer annual electricity service interruptions on average. And when customers do experience an outage, Ameren Illinois is restoring power 19 percent faster on average than in previous years.

“By all measures, the modernization plan is working for our customers and for Illinois,” said Richard Mark, president of Ameren Illinois. “Reliability has improved 17 percent, outages are down and good paying jobs are being created at a time when our state needs them.”

More than 330 employees and an additional 1,000 contract workers have been hired to support investments in Ameren Illinois’ electric system and operations. In addition, Ameren Illinois is on track to exceed its EIMA full-time equivalent job creation commitment of 450 direct, contractor, or induced jobs during its peak program year. Under EIMA, Ameren Illinois expects to invest an additional $122.2 million on system improvements in 2015 toward a total expected investment of $643 million over the 10 year life of the program.

Ameren Illinois also reports that it is ahead of schedule in installing advanced meters, two-way devices that will provide customers with enhanced energy usage data and access to tools and programs to help them use less energy. In 2015, Ameren Illinois plans to deploy 142,000 electric meters at customer locations in central and southern Illinois.

Examples of the improvements being made on a local level include $10.7 million in upgrades in 2015 to improve the reliability and performance of the energy delivery system in East St. Louis, O’Fallon and surrounding areas.

2015 projects include:


• Ameren Illinois is building a new 34-kilovolt power line from the new Cross Street substation in Shiloh to the Porter Road substation in O’Fallon. The company will set 90 new poles. In addition, the company will add 4 miles of new power lines between the two substations and strengthen the grid in the area. The new lines will create alternate pathways with other distribution substations to re-route and deliver power if an outage occurs. Investment: $5 million. Project should be completed by the end of the year.

• On Troy-Scott Road, the company has upgraded a 4-mile stretch of power lines and set 35 new power poles along Troy-Scott Road to improve electric service reliability for our customers and to handle an increase in future demand. Investment: $980,000. Project completed.


• Ameren Illinois added advanced relay devices to the Horner Park substation to improve the company’s response to outages and provide valuable information for post-outage evaluations. By continuously monitoring the health of the system, the new relays will help to restore electric service more quickly, reducing outage time for customers. Investment: $115,000. Project completed in February.

Scott Air Force Base

• The company added advanced communications to the Scott Air Force Base substation on Golf Course Road. This technology, known as SCADA, provides real-time views into the substation’s operations. Dispatch offices can respond quickly to system issues as well as increase reliability through automation and control. Investment: $110,000. Project completed in February.

East St. Louis

• Ridge substation (located near the intersection of Ridge Avenue and 20th Street) – Ameren Illinois is installing a 112 mega-volt (MVA) transformer inside the Ridge substation. The new transformer replaces an older 100-MVA unit. Investment: $2.5 million.

• Edgemont substation (located near the intersection of State Street and Pershing Boulevard) ­ ­– the company is replacing two 4-MVA transformers with one 14-MVA transformer adding capacity to meet future demand in the area. The substation design also provides room for an additional 14-MVA unit to accommodate future growth in the City. Two 34-kV sub-transmission lines will serve the substation; one line will serve as a backup to improve service reliability for customers. Investment: $2 million.

This month, Ameren Illinois launched a suite of on-line tools to help its customers develop personalized energy savings plans.

“Today our customers have access to information that puts them firmly in control of their energy bills,” said Mark. “Over time the upgrades will help us detect and isolate outages faster while giving our customers even more ways to manage their usage and contain costs.”

The 2014 National Grid Modernization Index, developed by the GridWise alliance and the Smart Grid Policy Center, ranks Illinois 3rd in the nation for its grid modernization policies, investments, and activities, trailing only Texas and California. Illinois moved up from 10th place in 2013.

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