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Solar Energy Helps Ameren’s Merchant Generating Plants Manage Water Systems

Three Ameren merchant generating plants are now using renewable energy to manage water systems at the plants’ landfills. The landfills are used to store byproducts from burning coal used to generate electricity. 

The Illinois-based generating facilities of Ameren’s merchant generating subsidiary, Ameren Energy Resources (AER) -- Coffeen, Duck Creek and Newton power plants -- installed solar energy panels, instead of spending up to $300,000 to connect to traditional power sources. The solar panels include a battery back-up for cloudy and night time periods.

“The solar panels are relatively small but afforded us an opportunity to reduce installation costs and auxiliary power consumption, and to gain some experience that may help us use this technology in other future applications,” says AER Vice President Chris Iselin.

Modern landfill sites require the collection, treatment or reuse of leachate, or water that comes in contact with wastes in a landfill. Typically, pumps are installed to control the draining leachate, but powering these pumps is difficult due to the landfills being thousands of yards away from the generating plants. Once pumped out of the landfill area, the leachate can either be sent to a treatment facility or returned to the landfill.

These initiatives follow the installation of a range of state-of-the-art environmental controls completed in 2009 and 2010, including scrubbers on units at Duck Creek and Coffeen plants, reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 90%.

Renewable energy systems are used at the plants in the following ways:

• Two solar energy systems remove leachate at Coffeen Power Plant in Montgomery County, Ill. Solar panels will be used to power remote pumping equipment connected to lined cells that will be used to store scrubber waste.

• In 2005, AER’s Newton Power Plant in Jasper County, Ill., installed five small windmill-driven cells to power a pump to remove leachate from the plant’s landfill. In 2009, a severe storm damaged one of the windmills, which was replaced with a solar energy panel.

“The windmills have been very effective over the past five years,” said Newton Plant Manager Jim Williams. “Supplying power to these areas using renewable energy was a beneficial and practical solution for managing these water systems.”

• Duck Creek Power Plant in Canton, Ill., also added a solar energy panel for leachate management in 2009.

• Both Newton and Coffeen plants have installed solar-powered data collection systems for lake monitoring. These systems power sensors that monitor lake temperatures and radio systems that transmit temperature data back to the plants.

Ameren's non-rate-regulated operations include AER's Ameren Energy Generating Company's and Ameren Energy Resources Generating Company's six coal-fired plants plus multiple natural gas-fired units. In addition, AER includes Ameren Energy Medina Valley Cogen L.L.C., which operates a natural gas-fired facility in Mossville, Ill., and Ameren Energy Marketing Company (AEM). AEM is responsible for the marketing and trading portfolios of 11 generating facilities in Illinois and Missouri. AEM serves the power needs of utilities, municipalities, electric cooperatives, energy aggregators, business customers and financial institutions.

Contacts: Brianne Lindemann, 314-554-2738
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With assets of more than $24 billion, St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation owns a diverse mix of electric generating plants strategically located in our Midwest market, with a generating capacity of more than 16,300 megawatts. Through our Missouri and Illinois subsidiaries, we serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly 1 million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area. Our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. For more information, visit Ameren.com.