More renewables, much less coal in Ameren Missouri's future
- Ameren Missouri this week filed its 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with state officials, calling for significant cuts to the utility's coal-fired generation, increased investment in renewables and grid modernization that will allow the electric system to be used in new ways.
- Ameren has also established a goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.
- The utility will add at least 700 MW of wind generation by 2020, at a cost of about $1 billion, along with 100 MW of solar over the next decade.
Ameren Missouri is among the few utilities with an IRP that includes dramatic carbon reduction goals. Along the path to its 2050 goal, the utility is also targeting a 35% carbon emissions reduction by 2030 and a 50% reduction by 2040.
"We are the first investor-owned utility in the state, and among the first in the country, to announce a carbon emissions goal of this magnitude," Ameren Missouri President Michael Moehn said in a statement.
The utility plans to retire over half of its coal-fired generating capacity, including mothballing the Meramec Energy Center in south St. Louis County by the end of 2022. And significant amounts of wind power will come online just two years before the plant is pulled offline. Ameren has also left open the possibility that even more wind energy will be added, as a result of improving technology and economics, and renewable energy initiatives with large customers.
Meramec is the oldest of Ameren's coal-fired facilities and began operating in 1953.
"We expect this tremendous growth in wind generation to provide great value to our customers, who will save money on energy costs," Moehn said. "Because of significant advancement in technology, harnessing wind is less expensive than other forms of new generation."
Three years ago, Ameren Missouri's previous IRP had forecasted additions of just 120 MW of wind generation by 2020.
Planning is underway for two solar projects, with 50 MW expected to come online by 2025.
Ameren Missouri is developing a solar generation facility at St. Louis Lambert International Airport that is expected to be complete in 2018. A separate project creates partnerships with business customers to locate an Ameren Missouri-owned solar generation facility on their property.
Ameren has also grown its energy efficiency program: the energy savings goal for the current three-year plan is 570,000 MWh — the equivalent to taking 115,000 cars off the road.
Ameren said it is also looking at the need to transition to a smart energy grid that can support more renewable energy, community and private solar, and customers' desire for more timely information.
"In the next two decades, the energy grid will be the lifeline for cleaner energy connecting hundreds, if not thousands, of small and regional renewable energy generators to the grid in real time while maintaining the energy reliability demanded by customers," the company said.
- U.S. News & World Report Ameren Missouri announces solar, wind investment
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