Ameren Seeks Expansion Through New Company

(Illinois Statehouse News) - 8/3/2010 - By Kevin Lee - A prominent midwest utilities corporation wants the green light on a slate of new large-scale electricity projects within a year.
   Ameren Corporation, which disburses both natural gas and electricity utilities in Illinois and Missouri, is creating a new subsidiary to manage the projects, which include running high-voltage transmission lines across the state and linking together existing power plants.
   The petition asks the federal regulatory commission to determine how midwest utilities consumers would divide the costs of the construction projects. The corporation expects a response in 60 days.
Tom Voss, President and CEO of Ameren, said expanding transmission efforts would help spur development and keep prices competitive for utilities consumers.
   “New transmission would also open up new markets for our procurement of electricity for Illinois customers. So we think that it’ll make the markets more competitive so it should eventually help with keeping costs under control,” he said.
   State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, was cautiously optimistic on the idea of constructing high-voltage lines to buttress the state’s energy grid.
   “From what we hear from industry, chambers of commerce, the (Illinois) Manufacturers’ Association, is that there is a deficit of power. We haven’t really built any new generation, and so the ability to strengthen the grid has been a goal of theirs,” he said.
   One of the projects in the portfolio includes running transmission lines through the Grand Tower Power Plant in southern Illinois.
   Maureen Borkowski, the new president and CEO of the Ameren subsidiary that will oversee the transmission projects, said the project will provide energy support to the region.
   “One of the transmissions projects is a big ‘X’ with Grand Tower at the middle of that ‘X,’” Borkowski said. “The purpose for that project, primarily, is due to congestion relief as well as (improving) local area reliability.”
   Borkowski also mentioned a large-scale proposal that would run transmission lines from Missouri to Indiana, through Quincy, Ill., and could potentially link energy sources throughout the state.
   “That transmission project has a multitude of different benefits including reliability, wind integration, congestion relief. And that also happens to be on the path of the two clean-coal technology plants,  the Taylorville Energy Center and FutureGen (near Mattoon, Illinois) that are being proposed in that region,” she said.
   Neither clean-coal plant is running as of yet.
   Borkowski said that if the federal government accepts the portfolio of projects, then Ameren would have to seek further approval on the portfolio from the Midwestern Transmission Independent Service Operators, a regional nonprofit energy organization, and the state of Illinois.
   Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News.