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Ameren Missouri to invest $8B in grid modernization, infrastructure upgrades

Ameren Missouri is pledging a sizable investment into its infrastructure and renewable energy generation as part of its continued commitment to smart energy. 

The company filed its updated Smart Energy Plan and budget with Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) Friday, seeking to invest $8.4 billion in green power and infrastructure over the next five years. Ameren Missouri President Marty Lyons said it was the latest step in the utility’s effort to prepare the state for the future.

“For the past two years we’ve been executing an ambitious plan to strengthen our infrastructure to serve our Missouri electric and gas customers,” Lyons told The Missouri Times. “Today we announced that over the next five years, we will be investing another $8.4 billion to create an even stronger, smarter, cleaner, and secure grid. We’re really excited about the progress we’ve made and also the great work that we have left to do.”

Under the expanded plan, Ameren plans to install more than a million smart meters and implement infrastructure upgrades, economic growth programs, and renewable generation systems through 2025. Ameren committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 last year as part of its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), planning to expand its clean energy portfolio by expanding its hydro, solar, and nuclear energy facilities over the next two decades and phase out all coal-based facilities by 2042. This expansion presents its next steps toward its goal over the first half of the decade.

Last year, the company invested in more than 200 smart switches, 14 upgraded substations, and more than 133,000 smart meters to modernize Missouri’s infrastructure. The company also acquired its first wind energy facility in 2020, with the second purchased in January. Lyons said the company had been able to pass savings along to its customers through these investments, lowering rates to more than 20 percent below the national average.

“We’ve actually had the ability to reduce rates twice as we’ve implemented this plan,” he said. “We had a 6 percent rate cut in 2018 and another 1.5 percent rate cut in 2020, which on average saves residential customers about $87 on an annual basis. We’re excited to be able to make these investments to improve reliability for our customers while keeping rates affordable.”

Additionally, Lyons said his company would focus on investing in Missouri-based vendors and workforce development through this proposal.

This week saw energy concerns across the Midwest as winter storms ravaged the country. Millions in Texas faced mass outages and many Missouri companies initiated rolling blackouts to conserve power on the grid. Lyons said investments in reliability and infrastructure were key to ensuring power to customers during volatile weather events. 

“I think it really underscores the importance of plans like this,” Lyons said. “Utilities in general need to plan for extreme weather and make sure that we’re investing in the grid infrastructure to enable it to be reliable and resilient, and that goes for our energy centers as well. It’s important to have strong connectivity around the region, whether that be through electric transmission lines or through gas transmission to make sure that when we have to buy power or gas that we can import that or make it available to others.”

Lyons said the company’s investments had already led to a decreased frequency and length of outages since its implementation.