The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved Ameren Illinois’ plans to accelerate upgrades to its electric grid, an effort that has already resulted in more than 235,300 fewer outages and saved customers an estimated $46 million each year. The ICC order will enable Ameren Illinois to accelerate its smart meter deployment and install new meters at all customer premises by 2019.
Ameren Illinois, a subsidiary of Ameren Corp., launched its grid improvement initiative in 2012 after the state passed the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA). The landmark legislation enables the company to recover the costs of capital for infrastructure improvements and enhancements to the electric distribution system.
Under the modernization plan, Ameren Illinois has installed storm-resistant utility poles, stronger power lines, and outage detection technology in communities throughout central and southern Illinois. In addition, more than 345,000 customers have received new two-way meters that facilitate access to energy-saving tools and programs.
“We’re grateful to have earned the Commission’s continued confidence in our long-term plan to build a stronger energy grid,” said Craig Nelson, senior vice president, Regulatory Affairs and Financial Services for Ameren Illinois. “Today’s decision ensures that all of our customers will have access to technology to help them manage their energy use and save money on their utility bills.”
Over time, customers with a smart meter will be able to view energy usage online and to participate in pricing options and programs. In one example of a cost-savings program enabled by smart meters, more than 7,000 customers voluntarily used less electricity during two high-demand, or “peak,” high-temperature days in August and September. These customers earned bill credits ranging from a few dollars up to $63.
“The state is supportive of the smart grid initiative because we're not only making critical enhancements to an aging energy infrastructure and creating thousands of new jobs, we're also enabling our customers to take control of their energy costs," Nelson said.