Letters to the Editor

Harnessing the future of clean energy

Ameren Corporation, the parent of Ameren Illinois, recently published a corporate social responsibility report detailing the company’s commitment to energy sustainability. This report highlights the actions being taken to improve environmental performance and build stronger local communities throughout Ameren’s two-state service region. Ameren Missouri, for example, has made significant progress in reducing the impact of its operations on the environment, achieving decreases in carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide emissions from its coal-fired energy centers.

As a company that delivers energy, but does not generate it, the Ameren Illinois contribution to being a socially responsible community partner is measured in several ways. Most notably, over the past nine years, our Energy Efficiency programs have helped residential and business customers reduce their energy consumption by 11.8 million mwhs, the equivalent of the 1.2 million homes’ electricity use for one year.

At former manufactured gas plant sites built and operated by predecessor companies, Ameren is voluntarily removing coal tar from the ground. These sites, including those in Belleville and East St. Louis, have delivered significant economic and environmental benefits. At our Maryville Operating Center, we opened a new compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and are rotating CNG-powered trucks into our fleet as older model diesel trucks are retired. To date, we have added three CNG trucks. With these new trucks, we except to reduce fuel costs and reduce carbon dioxide by 40-50 percent per truck, each year.

Perhaps the most encouraging opportunity for environmental progress is in the transition to cleaner, more reliable energy sources. Last month, Ameren unveiled North America’s most technologically advanced utility scale distributed energy resource facility. At a location just south of the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, a towering wind turbine is turning prairie winds into power. A large array of solar panels is silently harnessing energy from the sun. Natural gas generators are cranking out kilowatts. And massive batteries are capturing the clean, renewable energy and readying it for distribution onto the grid when needed.

Ameren is proactively testing and developing the capabilities to manage demand and control and economically dispatch both the customer-owned and utility-owned distributed energy. The wind, solar, and natural gas assets on at this test facility can produce up to 1,475 kilowatts and can actually power 190 nearby Champaign homes and businesses.

What does all this mean?

Think ahead to 2030-2050. There will be substantial changes in how and where you get the power to run your home or business. As these renewable energy sources become more accessible and affordable, you will have a menu of options available. You may be able to sell excess power you generate and put it back onto the larger grid. We plan to continue to stay abreast of new technologies so we can offer you the best direction on how to make the best choice for you.

At Ameren, our motto is lead today to transform tomorrow. As the energy sector transitions to the future, Ameren is preparing to deliver for our customers and our planet.

Richard J. Mark is the chairman and president of Ameren Illinois.