As part of a multi-year plan to build a next generation energy delivery system and create jobs in central and southern Illinois, Ameren Illinois announced today it is investing approximately $7 million to improve electric service for residential and small business customers in and around Richland County, including upgrading electric meters.
“Over time, the upgrades we’re making now will provide our customers with access to more programs, pricing options and energy efficiency tools to help them manage their energy usage and better control their costs,” said George Justice, Director of Division IV Operations for Ameren Illinois. “These improvements will also help us detect outages sooner and restore service more promptly.”
This month local customers will begin to receive notification about upcoming electric meter upgrades, which are scheduled to begin in March and continue throughout 2015. The two-way advanced meters will provide better information for restoring outages and give Ameren Illinois customers more meaningful information about their energy usage. Benefits include:
Ameren Illinois will contact customers in advance of meter upgrades. Customers do not need to take any action or be present as long as installers have clear and safe access to the meters. The upgrades will take about 10-15 minutes and will be performed by Ameren Illinois or Apex contracting crews displaying Ameren photo-ID badges. Installers will never ask for payment of any kind. There will be a brief interruption to a customer’s electric service. If a customer is not present, a door hanger will be left to let them know if the upgrade was completed.
“We are committed to keeping our customers informed about how we are investing to upgrade their service,” Justice said. “Advanced meters are all about improving service reliability. Enhancing reliability and providing access to energy information is going to be an energy- and cost-saving advantage for our customers in the future.”
The meter upgrades are in addition to the utility's other improvements being made in 2015, including rebuilding a five-mile stretch of the system from a substation on the south end of Louisville along Illinois Route 45 to the northwest end of Flora. This project will benefit the communities of Louisville, Flora, Iuka and Xenia.
Ameren Illinois plans to replace more than 120 utility poles along a 22-mile stretch from the Albion South substation north along Route 130 to Olney to improve reliability. Every fifth pole will be replaced with a composite fiberglass pole to harden the system and help prevent structural failures due to high winds.
In addition, the company is upgrading two 4kV circuits to 12kV circuits on power lines in Grayville, which is like a customer upgrading their 100-amp electric service panel in their home to a 200-amp service panel to handle more electronic devices.
Inside the North Olney Substation near Mack Avenue, Ameren Illinois is adding smart switching devices known as Vipers. Vipers help detect problems on the power lines – such as a lightning strike or a fallen tree limb – and work to reduce the number of customers affected by a power outage. These projects will improve the service reliability and performance of Ameren Illinois’ electric delivery system in Richland County.
According to Justice, customers are experiencing the benefits of Ameren Illinois’s long-term approach for upgrading the state's natural gas and electric delivery infrastructure. Since 2012, Ameren Illinois has implemented hundreds of system reliability projects by adding new technology and fortifying the energy grid. As a result, reliability has improved by an average of 20 percent, saving Ameren Illinois customers an estimated $44 million a year. The utility has added more than 800 employees, and more than 1,200 Illinois-based contract workers who are supporting Ameren Illinois projects.
Customers with questions can visit AmerenIllinois.com/focus or call Ameren Illinois Customer Service at 1-800-755-5000.
About Ameren Illinois
Ameren Illinois is investing $3.5 billion over the next five years to build a next generation energy delivery system and create jobs in central and southern Illinois. Ameren Illinois is fortifying utility poles, replacing distribution lines and gas transmission equipment, and installing automated switches and sensors throughout its 43,700 square-mile service territory. Additional improvements include upgrading electric and natural gas meters. Over time, the upgrades will improve service reliability and provide customers with information they can use to take control of their energy usage and costs. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com/focus.