Ameren Missouri customers getting stronger, smarter, cleaner and more resilient energy grid, thanks to Smart Energy Plan
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), filed its updated Smart Energy Plan with the Missouri Public Service Commission today, describing the company's plan to invest $8.4 billion primarily on grid modernization efforts over the next five years. Projects include investments in upgrading aging infrastructure, automated technology, stronger poles and upgraded power lines that benefit customers by reducing outages, restoring power faster. Projects also build and bolster the infrastructure needed to support more clean, renewable energy generation.
"Thanks to the Smart Energy Plan, we have been able to replace aging infrastructure and invest in a more resilient, reliable and sustainable energy system for our customers," said Mark Birk, president of Ameren Missouri. "These are changes that many of our customers can see today. With thousands of upgrades completed, we've improved reliability by up to 40% where we have installed smart technology. And our customers will continue to see improvements as more upgrades are completed across our 24,000-square-mile system."
Helping the local economy
A more modern energy grid also provides benefits to the local economy by creating engineering, planning and construction jobs and increasing orders with Missouri suppliers to provide many of the needed materials. In 2021, Ameren Missouri spent $438 million with Missouri vendors and contractors to complete Smart Energy Plan projects.
The plan also includes economic development incentives to help attract and retain Missouri businesses. As a result of these incentives, 30 companies have chosen to move to Missouri or expand their footprint here since 2019, providing 4,600 new jobs and retaining 4,200 jobs in local communities and contributing another $2.7 billion in new capital investments to Missouri's economy.
Increasing reliability for customers
Ameren Missouri customers have benefited from thousands of completed projects since the passage of the Smart Energy Plan that create a smarter and more reliable energy grid. These include:
- 750 smart equipment switches to reduce outages from hours to minutes and even seconds.
- 41 new or upgraded substations to better serve communities.
- 463,000 smart meters to provide two-way communication with Ameren Missouri and deliver more precise energy use information to customers.
- 115 miles of upgraded power lines providing more ability to reroute power during an outage.
Making a difference around Missouri
Customers are seeing the positive impact of these projects. In Hayti, a new sub-transmission line was installed using stronger wires that are twisted together to reduce ice buildup and defuse high winds. The new line, in combination with new composite utility poles, helped prevent damage when a tornado ripped through southeast Missouri in December.
Another primary focus of the Smart Energy Plan has been to upgrade or build new substations. The improved substations feature transformers, automated sensors and smart switches that improve reliability, rapidly detect outages and minimize outage times so power can be restored to customers faster. These more modern substations are now benefiting communities in Center City, Florissant, Creve Coeur and Benton. Other smart equipment, such as a distribution device called a "Viper Switch" located in communities including Foristell, also helps detect outages and reroutes power when possible – sometimes speeding power restoration from hours to seconds.
New smart meters provide two-way communication between the customer's meter and Ameren Missouri's upgraded network. This benefits customers by providing improved reliability, faster outage response and the convenience of managing energy usage online or through a mobile app. Smart meters will continue to be rolled out to all Ameren Missouri customers over the next two years.
"As our updated Smart Energy Plan shows, we're committed to continuing these projects to enhance Missouri's energy grid over the next several years," Birk said. "These are investments that will have a direct impact on the lives of our customers and communities and will ultimately enable us to meet the needs of a more sustainable energy future."
The Smart Energy Plan began in 2018 with the passage of new energy legislation by the Missouri General Assembly. To learn more, visit AmerenMissouri.com/Plan.
Editor's Note: For more examples of how the Smart Energy Plan is helping Missouri see our 2021 Progress Report.
About Ameren Missouri
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 132,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company's service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.
Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, strategies, targets, estimates, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed under Risk Factors in Ameren's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021, and elsewhere in this release and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward- looking statements:
- regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions, and any changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations, that may change regulatory recovery mechanisms, such as those that may result from the impact of a final judgment to be issued by the United States Court for the Eastern District of Missouri regarding its September 2019 remedy order for the Rush Island Energy Center, the July 2020 appeal filed by Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, and Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (ATXI) challenging the refund period related to the FERC's May 2020 order determining the allowed base return on common equity (ROE) under the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) tariff, and the July 2020 appeal filed by Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, and ATXI challenging the FERC's rehearing denials in the transmission formula rate revision cases;
- the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impacts on our business continuity plans and our results of operations, financial position, and liquidity, including but not limited to: changes in customer demand resulting in changes to sales volumes; customers' payment for our services and their use of deferred payment arrangements; the health, welfare, and availability of our workforce and contractors; supplier disruptions; delays in the completion of construction projects, which could impact our expected capital expenditures and rate base growth; changes in how we operate our business and increased data security risks as a result of remote working arrangements for a significant portion of our workforce; and our ability to access the capital markets on reasonable terms and when needed;
- the effect on Ameren Missouri's investment plan and earnings if an extension to use PISA is not sought by Ameren Missouri or approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission (MoPSC);
- the effect on Ameren Missouri of any customer rate caps pursuant to Ameren Missouri's election to use the plant-in-service accounting (PISA), including an extension of use beyond 2023, if requested by Ameren Missouri and approved by the MoPSC;
- the effects of changes in federal, state, or local laws and other governmental actions, including monetary, fiscal, and energy policies;
- the effects of changes in federal, state, or local tax laws, regulations, interpretations, or rates, and challenges to the tax positions we have taken, if any, as well as resulting effects on customer rates;
- the effects on energy prices and demand for our services resulting from technological advances, including advances in customer energy efficiency, electric vehicles, electrification of various industries, energy storage, and private generation sources, which generate electricity at the site of consumption and are becoming more cost-competitive;
- our ability to control costs and make substantial investments in our businesses, including our ability to recover costs and investments, and to earn our allowed ROEs, within frameworks established by our regulators, while maintaining affordability of our services for our customers;
- the effectiveness of our risk management strategies and our use of financial and derivative instruments;
- the ability to obtain sufficient insurance, or in the absence of insurance, the ability to timely recover uninsured losses from our customers;
- the impact of cyberattacks on us or our suppliers, which could, among other things, result in the loss of operational control of energy centers and electric and natural gas transmission and distribution systems and/or the loss of data, such as customer, employee, financial, and operating system information;
- business and economic conditions, which have been affected by, and will be affected by the length and severity of, the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of such conditions on interest rates and inflation;
- disruptions of the capital markets, deterioration in our credit metrics, or other events that may have an adverse effect on the cost or availability of capital, including short-term credit and liquidity;
- the actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions, including any impacts on our credit ratings that may result from the economic conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- the inability of our counterparties to meet their obligations with respect to contracts, credit agreements, and financial instruments, including as they relate to the construction and acquisition of electric and natural gas utility infrastructure and the ability of counterparties to complete projects which is dependent upon the availability of necessary materials and equipment, including those that are affected by disruptions in the global supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
- the construction, installation, performance, and cost recovery of generation, transmission, and distribution assets;
- Ameren Missouri's ability to recover the remaining investment and decommissioning costs associated with the retirement of an energy center, as well as the ability to earn a return on that remaining investment and those decommissioning costs;
- the impact of current environmental laws and new, more stringent, or changing requirements, including those related to the New Source Review and carbon dioxide, other emissions and discharges, Illinois emission standards, cooling water intake structures, coal combustion residuals, energy efficiency, and wildlife protection, that could limit or terminate the operation of certain of Ameren Missouri's energy centers, increase our operating costs or investment requirements, result in an impairment of our assets, cause us to sell our assets, reduce our customers' demand for electricity or natural gas, or otherwise have a negative financial effect;
- the impact of complying with renewable energy standards in Missouri;
- Ameren Missouri's ability to construct and/or acquire wind, solar, and other renewable energy generation facilities, retire energy centers, and implement new or existing customer energy efficiency programs, including any such construction, acquisition, retirement, or implementation in connection with its Smart Energy Plan, integrated resource plan, or emissions reduction goals, and to recover its cost of investment, related return, and in the case of customer energy-efficiency programs, any lost margins in a timely manner, which is affected by the ability to obtain all necessary regulatory and project approvals, including certificates of convenience and necessity from the MoPSC or any other required approvals for the addition of renewable resources;
- the availability of federal production and investment tax credits related to renewable energy and Ameren Missouri's ability to use such credits; the cost of wind, solar, and other renewable generation and storage technologies; and our ability to obtain timely interconnection agreements with the MISO or other regional transmission organizations at an acceptable cost for each facility;
- advancements in carbon-free generation and storage technologies, and the impact of constructive federal and state energy and economic policies with respect to those technologies;
- labor disputes, work force reductions, changes in future wage and employee benefits costs, including those resulting from changes in discount rates, mortality tables, returns on benefit plan assets, and other assumptions;
- the impact of negative opinions of us or our utility services that our customers, investors, legislators, regulators or other stakeholders may have or develop, which could result from a variety of factors, including failures in system reliability, failure to implement our investment plans or to protect sensitive customer information, increases in rates, negative media coverage, or concerns about environmental, social, and/or governance practices;
- the impact of adopting new accounting guidance;
- the effects of strategic initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures;
- legal and administrative proceedings; and
- acts of sabotage, war, terrorism, or other intentionally disruptive acts.
New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all of such factors, nor can it assess the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained or implied in any forward-looking statement. Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward- looking statements to reflect new information or future events.
SOURCE Ameren Missouri
For further information: Ameren Missouri Communications, 311.554.2182, email@example.com