This fall, Ameren Illinois customers living around southwest Champaign will see Energy at Work first hand as the company constructs a $9.1 million state-of-the-art substation. The new facility, which reduces voltage from large transmission lines so electricity can be distributed homes and businesses, will enhance service reliability, flexibility and load capacity of the company's local electric grid in Champaign and Bondville.
Ameren Illinois is constructing the substation with a new and innovative design to achieve several goals:
- Prove that future substations can be built on a reduced physical footprint – all new equipment in the southwest Champaign facility is self-contained, which reduces the physical footprint of the substation.
- Reduce maintenance costs – the substation will use remote equipment monitoring and cameras to alert substation operations when issues surface. This added technology will reduce the need for in-person site visits.
- Minimize animal exposure – nearly all energized parts of the equipment inside the substation are enclosed to prevent animals from contacting the equipment and causing outages.
- Key power source will be underground – unlike many substations, the power line source from Bondville to the southwest Champaign substation location will be placed underground.
"Substations do not get a lot of fanfare but they are critical elements in a reliable, resilient energy grid," said Ron Juarez, Director of Eastern Region Electric Operations, Ameren Illinois. "Our southwest Champaign substation is a prototype that will serve as a design model for future substation construction throughout the Ameren Illinois service territory. When we place this substation into service next spring, we'll have the capability to re-route power from other substations in the area to reduce the duration of outages, and meet demand for reliable energy from growing businesses in the Champaign region."
The enhancements are part of Ameren Illinois' multi-year initiative to modernize its energy delivery system. The company has implemented hundreds of projects, added new technology and strengthened poles, wires and distribution equipment. As a result, reliability has improved by an average of 22 percent and the time of an outage has been reduced by 16 percent.