ST. LOUIS, July 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AmerenUE, a utility operating company of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), plans to invest $1 billion over the next three years to improve reliability, upgrade delivery systems, and enhance the environmental performance of its power plants.
"With the severe weather patterns of the past few years and a focus on improving air quality, we are working even harder to ensure reliability for our customers of today and tomorrow," said Thomas R. Voss, president and chief executive officer of AmerenUE. "We've been working closely with community officials and leaders across our system to determine the best approach for improving our delivery system, while ensuring that we meet the growing demand for energy."
Named "Project Power On," this three-year initiative involves a commitment over and above the $500 million per year the company has been spending on efforts to upgrade and maintain the system.
Project Power On involves four components designed to address the region's current and future energy and environmental needs. These include:
-- $300 million over three years for undergrounding and reliability improvement -- AmerenUE is planning to increase company spending by $100 million per year to better protect the system against severe weather. This includes a substantial underground cabling effort in neighborhoods most at risk of electric service disruption and where undergrounding is feasible, improves reliability, and makes economic sense. -- $135 million over three years ($45 million annually) for tree-trimming -- Nearly twice the budget of a few years ago, AmerenUE is pursuing a more aggressive tree removal and trimming plan that will include trimming on private property with the property owner's consent. This program targets electric lines built to serve new developments over the past four decades; many new trees planted during that time now jeopardize the system in severe weather. The company will continue to work with local governments on ways to handle tree issues both on public lands and private property. -- $84 million over three years (approximately $28 million per year) for circuit and device inspection and repair -- AmerenUE is increasing the frequency of pole repair and replacement and establishing a "foot patrol" inspection program, in addition to the visual inspection done by tree-trimming staff. This aggressive preventive maintenance will help identify, repair, and/or replace poles and other equipment prior to failure. The company is expanding its pole and line inspection programs to include all poles. These efforts will be supported by new technology that allows crews to check the integrity of lines throughout the distribution system. -- $500 million over three years to address the growing energy needs of the region by installing environmental controls on existing plants so that they meet or do better than federal environmental standards -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) calls for reductions of nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 percent and sulfur dioxide by 65 percent - both by 2015 - and the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) calls for mercury emission reductions of 70 percent by 2018. With this $500 million investment, AmerenUE expects to improve air quality for future generations. Most of the funding will go toward installing scrubbers at AmerenUE's Sioux Plant, helping AmerenUE achieve compliance with EPA and state requirements.
"We know what our customers want," Voss said. "When they flip a switch, they want the lights to come on, and these initiatives will help us reliably supply that electricity -- now and into the future. A significant part of this goal is continuing our environmental leadership role, ensuring our plants are clean and efficient, while addressing the increasing energy needs of our region."
Voss added that, in addition to committing funding for a range of projects, the company has appointed a full-time project manager as the primary contact for this effort. In April, AmerenUE hired an experienced consultant to help evaluate its reliability and storm response. KEMA Inc. has extensive experience in the areas of emergency response, reliability, and maintenance practices. KEMA will develop a Storm Adequacy Study that will be shared with regulators.
Voss stressed that AmerenUE continues to welcome a public dialogue to determine future actions and investments that are necessary to prepare the AmerenUE system for severe storms. He said that working with the regulators, community leaders, and customers will be key in determining the best public policy approach to investment in greater reliability.
With 1.2 million customers, AmerenUE is Missouri's largest electric company and third largest provider of natural gas. Ameren, through its operating companies, serves 2.4 million electric and 1 million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.
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, strategies, 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 elsewhere in this release and in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward-looking statements:
-- Regulatory or legislative actions, including changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations -- Changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary and fiscal policies -- Business and economic conditions, including their impact on interest rates -- Disruptions of the capital markets or other events that make access to necessary capital more difficult or costly -- Actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions -- Weather conditions and other natural phenomena -- The impact of system outages caused by severe weather conditions or other events -- Generation plant construction, installation, and performance -- The impact of current environmental regulations on utilities and power generating companies and the expectation that more stringent requirements, including those related to greenhouse gases, will be introduced over time, which could have a negative financial effect -- Legal and administrative proceedings -- Acts of sabotage, war, terrorism, or intentionally disruptive acts
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.
Project Power On Undergrounding Project Investment by County Missouri County Customers Three-Year Investment SAINT LOUIS 486,621 $121,032,000 SAINT LOUIS CITY 179,770 $44,709,000 SAINT CHARLES 119,420 $29,700,000 JEFFERSON 85,428 $21,246,000 FRANKLIN 43,734 $10,890,000 COLE 29,276 $7,287,000 SAINT FRANCOIS 25,814 $6,405,000 CAPE GIRARDEAU 24,218 $6,024,000 CAMDEN 21,923 $5,451,000 LINCOLN 11,493 $2,865,000 WASHINGTON 10,782 $2,688,000 ADAIR 10,690 $2,667,000 RANDOLPH 10,679 $2,664,000 SCOTT 9,203 $2,295,000 WARREN 8,982 $2,241,000 MILLER 8,600 $2,145,000 PEMISCOT 8,312 $2,073,000 PIKE 7,872 $1,962,000 STODDARD 7,592 $1,893,000 AUDRAIN 7,585 $1,890,000 MORGAN 6,918 $1,725,000 CLAY 6,694 $1,668,000 COOPER 6,159 $1,536,000 MISSISSIPPI 5,408 $1,350,000 NEW MADRID 5,415 $1,350,000 MONTGOMERY 5,183 $1,293,000 IRON 5,101 $1,272,000 CALLAWAY 4,637 $1,155,000 BOONE 3,723 $927,000 DUNKLIN 3,558 $888,000 LINN 3,475 $867,000 CALDWELL 3,020 $753,000 LEWIS 2,821 $702,000 OSAGE 2,796 $696,000 GASCONADE 2,454 $612,000 CLINTON 2,414 $603,000 MONITEAU 2,048 $510,000 MARIES 1,656 $414,000 RAY 1,644 $411,000 KNOX 1,504 $375,000 DEKALB 1,318 $330,000 RALLS 1,170 $291,000 CLARK 953 $237,000 HOWARD 866 $216,000 SCHUYLER 690 $171,000 SULLIVAN 673 $168,000 MONROE 664 $165,000 LIVINGSTON 444 $111,000 PETTIS 347 $87,000 DAVIESS 342 $84,000 MADISON 320 $81,000 BUTLER 1 $75,000 CHARITON 2 $75,000 DENT 3 $75,000 GENTRY 89 $75,000 MACON 3 $75,000 MARION 74 $75,000 PHELPS 3 $75,000 REYNOLDS 14 $75,000 SAINTE GENEVIEVE 72 $75,000 SALINE 113 $75,000 SCOTLAND 233 $75,000 Total 1,203,016 $300,000,000
SOURCE: Ameren Corporation
CONTACT: media, Tim Fox, +1-314-554-3120, or Mike Cleary,
+1-573-681-7137, or investors, Bruce Steinke, +1-314-554-2574, all of Ameren
Web site: http://www.ameren.com/