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Senate votes to accelerate modernization of electric grid
Clarifies formula-rate legislation; paves way for creation of hundreds of high-wage jobs

COLLINSVILLE, Ill., March 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Illinois Senate today voted to put the state's electric grid modernization efforts back on track and ensure that the benefits of improved reliability, job creation, and infrastructure upgrades can be realized by the state and Illinois consumers. Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, clarifies the Smart Grid law enacted in 2011 while maintaining strong consumer protections.

That 2011 law provided incentives for utilities like Ameren Illinois to improve the performance and reliability of the electric delivery system under a formula-rate making process.  

"We applaud the Senate for recognizing what is at stake and for taking action to make modernization of the grid a priority," said Richard Mark, president and CEO of Ameren Illinois. "Our team is prepared to implement exciting new technologies and enhancements to our electric delivery system that will enable customers in central and southern Illinois to take control of their energy usage and save money, as well as create hundreds of new jobs."

Under the smart grid law, Ameren Illinois committed to spend $625 million over 10 years to implement an infrastructure overhaul, including the installation of automated sensors to detect outages, advanced metering, and the construction of a new training center to prepare the next generation of utility workers. The company also initiated plans to add 450 high-wage jobs to execute these improvements across its service territory. However, after interpretations of the law by the Illinois Commerce Commission reduced funding for Ameren Illinois, the company postponed deployment of some key projects.

"Simply put, this legislation enables us to fill the jobs we have available and make the full breadth of needed infrastructure improvements because we'll have certainty that these investments will be recovered," Mark said.

"This legislation will create jobs, spur economic development, meet the demands of a new 21st century economy and make Illinois more competitive with other states," said Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO whose organization represents nearly 900,000 members throughout the state. "Replacing the aging infrastructure will put Illinoisans back to work while modernizing the electrical grid system to ensure reliability."

A companion bill was approved by the House Public Utilities Committee this week by a vote of 21-0-0. The full House is expected take up the measure later on in this session.

Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 813,000 natural gas customers in downstate Illinois, and our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles.

For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com or on Twitter @AmerenIllinois.

SOURCE Ameren Illinois