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Ameren files infrastructure update plan, pushes for new regulatory process

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Ameren Missouri filed a $1 billion infrastructure plan with the Missouri Public Service Commission on Monday, planning to replace aging infrastructure.

Ameren plans to update the existing infrastructure system, citing the age of current components. In the filing, the company said its four baseload coal generation plants average about 50 years old, about half of its substations are more than 40 years old and its underground network serving downtown St. Louis has facilities that are 80 to 100 years old.

“These aging facilities must be replaced and modernized to maintain the strong reliability that our customers have come to expect today, but also to meet their future energy needs and expectations,” the filing said.

The company highlights that the investment package could bring thousands of jobs to the region, including by attracting businesses to a smart grid system.

Ameren said an improved “smart” grid could reduce outages and time to restore power after outages as well as reducing customer costs.

The filing also called for a new way to calculate rates in Missouri to include infrastructure investment, citing current regulatory lag preventing power companies from investing. It criticized the current method for “looking backwards” at completed projects to generate new rates and pointed out that both Ameren and Kansas City Power and Light have earned “well below” their authorized limits.

“Although actual returns in any given year are influenced by a variety of factors, including weather and nuclear plant outages, reducing capital investments, along with reducing expenses, have been necessary to provide Ameren Missouri with any reasonable opportunity to earn its authorized return,” the filing said.

It called for immediate action to improve the regulatory framework in the state, similar to a measure that failed in the state legislature last session.

“We realize changes to the regulatory structure will require changes for all parties, including electric energy companies,” the filing said. “We welcome accountability measures 10 requiring that we demonstrate improvements in the frequency of outages, duration of outages, customer engagement metrics, and other metrics that encourage the electric service provider to accomplish improvements aligned with better serving customers and providing broader benefits to the State of Missouri to attract and retain businesses”

It also highlighted expected benefits of a change allowing faster infrastructure improvements.

“But we remain convinced that Missouri must take steps now to adopt a modern regulatory framework that promotes a smarter and stronger grid so:

  • customers continue to receive the reliable service they have come to expect;
  • customers can benefit from the greater conveniences, choices and controls afforded to them by the modern technology that is benefitting residents in other states;
  • we can take advantage of the low interest environment to enhance our infrastructure; and
  • we can create good-paying jobs in Missouri.”