One of the largest electric utilities in Illinois and Missouri has officially launched a large-scale solar initiative. Ameren Corporation willbegin by installing solar panels at two sites, one at the headquartersin St Louis and one at an existing Ameren Illinois Utilities facility.
But these systems will be small potatoes in comparison to the plansAmeren has in mind if the first phase of planning and design producesviable large-scale solar projects, and if these pilot projects showpromise, according to the press release. Designs for projects will be completed by April, and phase one installation should be complete by fall 2010.
“At these sites, we will be able to evaluate theeffectiveness and efficiencies of specific types of solar systems inthis region,” added (CEO Thomas R.] Voss, who announced the initiativeat a 10:30 a.m. media briefing [yesterday]. “After the systems becomeoperational, we will begin offering a range of online information aboutour findings from the project — information that should help customersin their own evaluations of different types of solar systems.”
Ameren’s interest in solar is not just at the corporate level.AmerenUE will be offering solar rebates to residential and commercialcustomers who install solar systems beginning in 2010. (For Illinoiscustomers, it is not clear if this will be offered as an alternativeto, or in conjunction with, the statewide solar rebate that provides 30percent of system costs.) The company has also been busy buyingrenewable energy credits (RECs), wind power for its Missouri portfolio,providing systems to allow its customers to support renewables withsurcharges on their electric bills, and pursuing a new waste-to-energyplant in Missouri.