Ameren Missouri to acquire its largest solar farm to date

The electric utility’s progress on its renewable energy goals is unclear

By: - February 22, 2022 11:49 am

(Photo by Sirisak Boakaew/Getty Images)

Despite plans to invest in its largest solar facility ever, it’s unclear whether Ameren Missouri will keep up with ambitious goals for investments in renewable energy over the next few years. 

Ameren is working to purchase a solar farm under development in southern Illinois for use by its Missouri customers. The electric utility, the largest in Missouri, announced last week that it had reached an agreement with solar developer Invenergy to purchase the 150-megawatt farm. 

“This is another important step in demonstrating the company’s commitment to clean energy and achieving our net-zero carbon emissions goal,” said Ajay Arora, chief renewable development officer at Ameren Missouri.

The company says the facility could start generating solar energy by the end of 2024, the year Ameren pledged to add 900 megawatts of solar and wind energy to the grid in its integrated resource plan on file with Missouri regulators. 

But Ameren didn’t answer questions about the combined 50 megawatts of solar energy it pledged to add this year and next or whether it was on track to meet those goals. An Ameren solar project underway in Montgomery County turned out smaller than the company initially announced. 

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the announcement because Ameren left enough wiggle room to fall short of their commitment,” said Jenn DeRose, campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Missouri. “Ameren crowed about a solar farm in Missouri in 2015 only to see the final project produce less than half of the energy compared to the original announcement.”

Ameren is expected to file an update to its integrated resource plan by this summer. It wouldn’t be the only utility to fall behind on ambitious renewable energy promises. Evergy, its counterpart in western Missouri and much of Kansas, had pledged 700 megawatts of solar power by the end of 2024. Instead, it will add 190.

Evergy blamed inflation, supply chain issues and the dearth of mature solar proposals from developers in the region. 

Ameren’s president and CEO, Marty Lyons, said on an investors’ conference call last week that inflation, supply chain issues and tariffs had slowed negotiations on renewable projects. He said Ameren had hoped to announce projects by the end of last year. 

“We are still expecting this year to announce other projects…but again, some of the bigger bulk of the projects we’re trying to get done are out there in that ‘24 to 2026 time frame,” Lyons said. 

Ameren’s IRP, filed in 2020, called for an additional 50 megawatts of solar energy this year and next, 900 megawatts of wind and solar by the end of 2024 and another 250 megawatts of solar by 2025. 

Ameren has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

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Allison Kite
Allison Kite

Allison Kite is a data reporter for The Missouri Independent and Kansas Reflector, with a focus on the environment and agriculture. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she’s covered state government in both Topeka and Jefferson City, and most recently was City Hall reporter for The Kansas City Star.

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