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Plan boosts investments while accelerating customer benefits
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), filed an updated Smart Energy Plan and budget with the Missouri Public Service Commission today. The $8.4 billion plan supports grid modernization efforts over the next five years, including installation of more than one million smart meters, more renewable generation, programs to stimulate economic growth for communities across Missouri and infrastructure upgrades that bolster reliability while enabling clean energy generation.
"The Smart Energy Plan is preparing our region for the future while making energy more reliable for families and businesses today," said Marty Lyons, president of Ameren Missouri. "We have made great progress in the first two years of this plan. These upgrades provide state-of-the-art technology and support our commitment to maintaining reliability as we transition to cleaner energy, including our ambitious goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050."
Ameren Missouri recently completed the purchase of its first two wind facilities and is now the largest operator of wind generation in the state. The company has plans to significantly expand its wind and solar generation over the coming years.
Smarter and More Reliable Energy for Missouri Customers
As homes now double as workplaces and schools, even a short outage is critical. Currently in its third year of implementation, the Smart Energy Plan progress includes smart technology that can rapidly detect outages and restore service in seconds, as well as new storm-resilient utility poles, power lines and underground cables designed to protect customers from outages during severe weather.
These investments have already provided customers with more dependability throughout challenging conditions, such as the derecho wind storm that swept through parts of the Midwest this past summer, resulting in 78,000 Ameren Missouri customers without power in St. Louis County and other communities. Despite the extensive damage from the storm, new smart technology enabled Ameren Missouri to rapidly detect which areas faced an outage and reroute power to 50,000 customers that night.
Ameren Missouri also is installing smart electric meters for all customers. The new meters provide customers with more convenience, choice and control to choose rates that fit their lifestyles and potentially save on their energy bills. The smart meter rollout began in St. Charles County during the summer of 2020, and the company will upgrade approximately 1.2 million electric meters by 2024.
Smart Energy Plan projects are supporting Missouri's economy by creating jobs and using local suppliers. For example, in Washington, Missouri, a new state-of-the-art substation includes transformers built by local manufacturer WEG Transformers. These transformers, built in Missouri, by Missourians, for the benefit of Ameren Missouri customers, will increase energy capacity for the area, allowing more businesses to grow and have reliable power. In total, 57% of Smart Energy Plan vendors are Missouri based.
While upgrading the electric grid, Ameren Missouri has been able to keep rates stable and affordable for customers, with customer rates more than 20% below the average electric rates in the Midwest, according to the Edison Electric Institute's "Typical Bills and Average Rates Report."
Ameren Missouri's Smart Energy Plan by the Numbers
Ameren Missouri has completed thousands of projects statewide to transform the grid and bring increased benefits to customers. This included, in 2020, the installation of:
200+ smart equipment switches to reduce outages from hours to minutes and even seconds. This technology has improved reliability up to 40%.
14 new or upgraded substations to better serve communities.
133,000 smart meters to deliver more precise energy use information to customers and offer flexibility to pay less when demand for energy is lower.
Last year's investments in infrastructure will result in an estimated $10 million in increased tax revenue for local communities in 2021.
"The Smart Energy Plan is about building a better energy grid that will serve our customers for many decades," said Lyons. "It's an important step on our path to leading the way to a more sustainable energy future."
To learn more, visit AmerenMissouri.com/Plan.
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 132,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company's service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.
Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed under Risk Factors in Ameren's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2020, and elsewhere in this release and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward-looking statements:
regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions, and any changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations, that may change regulatory recovery mechanisms;
the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impacts on our business continuity plans and our results of operations, financial position, and liquidity, including but not limited to changes in customer demand resulting in changes to sales volumes, the health and welfare of our workforce and contractors, supplier disruptions, delays in the completion of construction projects, which could impact our planned capital expenditures and expected planned rate base growth, Ameren Missouri's ability to recover any forgone customer late fee revenues or incremental costs, our ability to meet customer energy-efficiency program goals and earn performance incentives related to those programs, changes in how we operate our business and increased data security risks as a result of the transition to remote working arrangements for a significant portion of our workforce, and our ability to access the capital markets on reasonable terms and when needed;
the effect on Ameren Missouri of any customer rate caps pursuant to Ameren Missouri's election to use the plant-in-service accounting regulatory mechanism, including an extension of use beyond 2023, if requested by Ameren Missouri and approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission;
the effects of changes in federal, state, or local laws and other governmental actions, including monetary, fiscal, and energy policies;
the effects of changes in federal, state, or local tax laws, regulations, interpretations, or rates, and challenges to the tax positions taken by us, if any, as well as resulting effects on customer rates;
the effects on energy prices and demand for our services resulting from technological advances, including advances in customer energy efficiency, electric vehicles, electrification of various industries, energy storage, and private generation sources, which generate electricity at the site of consumption and are becoming more cost-competitive.
our ability to control costs and make substantial investments in our businesses, including our ability to recover costs, investments and our allowed return on equities within frameworks established by our regulators, while maintaining affordability of our services for our customers;
the cost and availability of fuel, such as low-sulfur coal, natural gas, and enriched uranium used to produce electricity; the cost and availability of purchased power, renewable energy credits, and natural gas for distribution; and the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodities and credits;
the effectiveness of our risk management strategies and our use of financial and derivative instruments;
the ability to obtain sufficient insurance, including insurance for Ameren Missouri's nuclear and coal-fired energy centers, or, in the absence of insurance, the ability to timely recover uninsured losses from our customers;
the impact of cyberattacks on us or our suppliers, which could, among other things, result in the loss of operational control of energy centers and electric and natural gas transmission and distribution systems and/or the loss of data, such as customer, employee, financial, and operating system information;
business and economic conditions, which have been affected by, and will be affected by the length and severity of, the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of such conditions on interest rates;
disruptions of the capital markets, deterioration in our credit metrics, or other events that may have an adverse effect on the cost or availability of capital, including short-term credit and liquidity;
the actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions, including any impacts on our credit ratings that may result from the economic conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic;
the inability of our counterparties to meet their obligations with respect to contracts, credit agreements, and financial instruments, including as it relates to the construction and acquisition of electric and natural gas utility infrastructure and the ability of counterparties to complete projects which is dependent upon the availability of necessary materials and equipment, including those that are affected by the disruptions in the global supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
the impact of weather conditions and other natural phenomena on us and our customers, including the impact of system outages and the level of wind and solar resources;
the construction, installation, performance, and cost recovery of generation, transmission, and distribution assets;
the effects of failures of electric generation, electric and natural gas transmission or distribution, or natural gas storage facilities systems and equipment, which could result in unanticipated liabilities or unplanned outages;
the operation of Ameren Missouri's Callaway Energy Center, including planned and unplanned outages, such as the current outage that began in December 2020 related to its generator, and the ability to recover costs associated with such outages and the impact of such outages on off-system sales and purchased power, among other things;
the impact of current environmental laws and new, more stringent, or changing requirements, including those related to the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act and carbon dioxide, other emissions and discharges, cooling water intake structures, coal combustion residuals, and energy efficiency, that could limit or terminate the operation of certain of Ameren Missouri's energy centers, increase our operating costs or investment requirements, result in an impairment of our assets, cause us to sell our assets, reduce our customers' demand for electricity or natural gas, or otherwise have a negative financial effect;
the impact of complying with renewable energy standards in Missouri;
Ameren Missouri's ability to construct and/or acquire wind, solar, and other renewable energy generation facilities, retire energy centers, and implement new or existing customer energy efficiency programs, including any such construction, acquisition, retirement or implementation in connection with its Smart Energy Plan, it's 2020 Integrated Resource Plan, or our emissions reduction goals, and to recover its cost of investment, related return and, in the case of customer energy-efficiency programs, any lost margins, in a timely manner, which is affected by the ability to obtain all necessary regulatory and project approvals, including a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Missouri Public Service Commission or any other required approvals for the addition of renewable resources;
the availability of federal production and investment tax credits related to renewable energy and Ameren Missouri's ability to use such credits; the cost of wind, solar, and other renewable generation and storage technologies; and our ability to obtain timely interconnection agreements with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. or other regional transmission organizations at an acceptable cost for each facility;
advancements in carbon-free generation and storage technologies, and constructive federal and state energy and economic policies with respect to those technologies;
labor disputes, work force reductions, changes in future wage and employee benefits costs, including those resulting from changes in discount rates, mortality tables, returns on benefit plan assets, and other assumptions;
the impact of negative opinions of us or our utility services that our customers, investors, legislators, or regulators may have or develop, which could result from a variety of factors, including failures in system reliability, failure to implement our investment plans or to protect sensitive customer information, increases in rates, negative media coverage, or concerns about environmental, social, and/or governance practices;
the impact of adopting new accounting guidance;
the effects of strategic initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures;
legal and administrative proceedings; and
acts of sabotage, war, terrorism, or other intentionally disruptive acts.
New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all of such factors, nor can it assess the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained or implied in any forward-looking statement. Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events.
SOURCE Ameren Missouri