Ameren Missouri expanding solar generation in Show-Me State with largest project in company history
Plans to acquire Huck Finn Solar Project receive key approval
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), takes another important step toward bringing more renewable energy to customers by announcing a key approval in the planned acquisition of the company's largest-ever solar facility, a 200 megawatt (MW) solar installation in central Missouri.
The Huck Finn Solar Project is planned to be constructed on the border of Missouri's Audrain and Ralls counties. Construction is expected to create approximately 250 jobs and, once functional, produce enough energy to power approximately 40,000 homes. Based on current projections, the project could begin generating clean energy as soon as late 2024. As Ameren Missouri announced last June, the facility will be acquired pursuant to a build-transfer agreement with EDF Renewables, a company with a longstanding track record of developing and building renewable energy facilities.
"Customers across the state will be better off with the addition of Huck Finn," said Mark Birk, chairman and president of Ameren Missouri. "The project will provide clean electricity, create economic opportunity and inject millions of dollars into the community over the life of the project, which will have widespread additional benefits."
The facility is a step-change for solar generation in Missouri, and was the first project announced after Ameren Missouri updated its comprehensive plan to safeguard long-term energy reliability and resiliency for Missourians. The plan also accelerates Ameren's companywide net-zero carbon emissions goal to 2045, five years sooner than previously planned.
"Ensuring that projects such as Huck Finn are built is critical to the ongoing generation transition," Birk said. "We're actively pursuing projects that provide relatively large generation capacity, are competitively priced and backed by a developer with a proven history of delivering projects."
Huck Finn is the first renewable energy generation acquisition to be approved following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Ameren actively advocated for components of these Acts, which will help bring about long-term customer benefits.
"Overall, the IRA enhances affordability of our ongoing clean energy transition – as we work to make the energy we provide as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without compromising on reliability, resiliency or affordability for our customers," said Ajay Arora, chief renewable development officer at Ameren Missouri.
Huck Finn is designed to generate more than 25 times the amount of energy of Missouri's largest existing solar facility. It is the latest project to be part of Ameren Missouri's planned addition of 2,800 MW in new, clean renewable generation by 2030 and the ninth solar facility that the company has announced or put in service since 2019. Together, these nine facilities represent more than 360 MW of clean energy generation capacity. In that time, Ameren Missouri has installed solar generation in underutilized locations including a parking garage, next to an airport runway and in partnership with community-based organizations working in underserved neighborhoods.
"Customers expect the generation transition to be affordable and reliable," Arora said. "As we execute our balanced, thoughtful plan, siting new generation projects across our service territory and surrounding states becomes increasingly important."
Terms of the agreement with EDF remain confidential.
About Ameren Missouri
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 135,000 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, Ameren and Ameren Missouri 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 and Ameren Missouri's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, and their other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such "forward-looking" statements. All "forward-looking" statements included in this report are based upon information presently available, and Ameren and Ameren Missouri, except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any "forward-looking" statements to reflect new information or current events.
- 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 ruling 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 Missouri Public Service Commission ("MoPSC") staff review of the planned Rush Island Energy Center retirement, and Ameren Missouri's electric regulatory rate review filed in August 2022 with the MoPSC;
- 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 return equity ("ROE"), within frameworks established by our regulators, while maintaining affordability of our services for our customers;
- the effect on Ameren Missouri of any customer rate caps or limitations on increasing the electric service revenue requirement pursuant to Ameren Missouri's election to use the plant-in-service accounting ("PISA");
- Ameren Missouri's ability to construct and/or acquire wind, solar, and other renewable energy generation facilities and battery storage, as well as natural gas-fired combined cycle energy centers, retire fossil fuel-fired 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, a related return, and, in the case of customer energy-efficiency programs, any lost margins in a timely manner, each of 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;
- Ameren Missouri's ability to use or transfer federal production and investment tax credits related to renewable energy projects; the cost of wind, solar, and other renewable generation and storage technologies; and our ability to obtain timely interconnection agreements with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. ("MISO") or other regional transmission organizations ("RTOs") at an acceptable cost for each facility;
- 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 obligations that are affected by supply chain disruptions;
- advancements in energy technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration, hydrogen fuel for electric production and energy storage, next generation nuclear, and large-scale long-cycle battery energy storage, and the impact of federal and state energy and economic policies with respect to those technologies;
- the effects of changes in federal, state, or local laws and other governmental actions, including monetary, fiscal, foreign trade, and energy policies;
- the effects of changes in federal, state, or local tax laws or rates, including the effects of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 ("IRA") and the 15% minimum tax on adjusted financial statement income, as well as additional regulations, interpretations, amendments, or technical corrections to or in connection with the IRA, and challenges to the tax positions taken by the Ameren companies, if any, as well as resulting effects on customer rates and the recoverability of the minimum tax pursuant to the IRA;
- 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;
- the cost and availability of fuel, such as low-sulfur coal, natural gas, and enriched uranium used to produce electricity; the cost and availability of natural gas for distribution and purchased power, including capacity, renewable energy credits, emission allowances; and the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodities and credits;
- disruptions in the delivery of fuel, failure of our fuel suppliers to provide adequate quantities or quality of fuel, or lack of adequate inventories of fuel, including nuclear fuel assemblies from the one Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed supplier of Ameren Missouri's Callaway Energy Center assemblies;
- the cost and availability of transmission capacity for the energy generated by Ameren Missouri's energy centers or required to satisfy our energy sales;
- the impact of cyberattacks and data security risks 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;
- acts of sabotage, which have increased in frequency and severity within the utility industry, war, terrorism, or other intentionally disruptive acts;
- business, economic, and capital market conditions, including the impact of such conditions on interest rates, inflation, and investments;
- the impact of inflation or a recession on our customers and the related impact on our results of operations, financial position, and liquidity;
- disruptions of the capital markets, deterioration in credit metrics of the Ameren companies, or other events that may have an adverse effect on the cost or availability of capital, including short-term credit and liquidity, and our ability to access the capital markets on reasonable terms when needed;
- the actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions;
- the impact of weather conditions and other natural phenomena on us and our customers, including the impact of system outages and the level of wind and solar resources;
- the construction, installation, performance, and cost recovery of generation, transmission, and distribution assets;
- the ability to maintain system reliability during the transition to clean energy generation by Ameren Missouri and the electric utility industry as well as Ameren Missouri's ability to meet generation capacity obligations;
- the effects of failures of electric generation, electric and natural gas transmission or distribution, or natural gas storage facilities systems and equipment, which could result in unanticipated liabilities or unplanned outages;
- the operation of Ameren Missouri's Callaway Energy Center, including planned and unplanned outages, as well as the ability to recover costs associated with such outages and the impact of such outages on off-system sales and purchased power, among other things;
- 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 provisions of the Clean Air Act, and carbon dioxide, other emissions and discharges, 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;
- the effectiveness of Ameren Missouri's customer energy-efficiency programs and the related revenues and performance incentives earned under its Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act ("MEEIA") programs;
- 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, creditors, 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 governance practices;
- the impact of adopting new accounting guidance;
- the effects of strategic initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures;
- legal and administrative proceedings;
- the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impacts on our results of operations, financial position, and liquidity; and
- the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, related sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other governments, and any broadening of the conflict, including potential impacts on the cost and availability of fuel, natural gas, enriched uranium, and other commodities, materials, and services, the inability of our counterparties to perform their obligations, disruptions in the capital and credit markets, and other impacts on business, economic, and geopolitical conditions, including inflation.
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, Ameren and Ameren Missouri 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: Media, Ameren Communications, 314.554.2182, email@example.com; Financial Analysts and Institutional Investors, Andrew Kirk, 314.554.3942, firstname.lastname@example.org