Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ameren Missouri Unveils $6.3 Billion Plan for Electric Grid Upgrades

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ameren Missouri Unveils $6.3 Billion Plan for Electric Grid Upgrades

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY - A year after convincing state lawmakers to make significant changes to state utility laws, Missouri's largest electric provider unveiled a plan Thursday to launch more than 2,000 grid improvement projects over the next five years.

In a proposal filed with the state's Public Service Commission, Ameren Missouri said the $6.3 billion plan will modernize the grid and enhance how customers receive and consume electricity, while also keeping rates stable.

"Building a smart grid for the future of energy in Missouri is foundational to our mission to power the quality of life for our customers and the communities we serve for generations to come," said Ameren Missouri President Michael Moehn.

The proposal includes a detailed plan for construction projects in 2019, including underground work in downtown St. Louis that seeks to improve reliability.

Moehn acknowledged that could mean more construction barricades in the city's core business district.

"The challenge downtown is always working with the streets department," Moehn said.

The company also plans to install 800,000 so-called "smart meters" through 2023, giving customers more control of their electric costs. The new meters will be spread out throughout the electric service territory.

"There's a lot of technology work that has to occur before even employing the meters," Moehn said.

The announcement came on the same day Ameren Corp. announced its 2018 net income was $815 million, up from $523 million in 2017.

The increase was attributed to higher electric sales after a warmer summer and colder winter.

After years of failed efforts, the monopoly last year won a key battle in the Missouri Legislature that freezes base rates through April 2020 and caps average annual rate increases at 2.85 percent.

Consumer and business groups warned the legislation could make it easier for Ameren and other utilities to raise rates and reduce their incentive to control spending, which ultimately is charged to its customers. …

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