Utility Ameren to Build Solar Facility
Ameren Missouri announced that it would build a multi-million-dollar solar energy facility on a 19-acre site next to its electrical substation in O’Fallon, Missouri.
The facility’s 19,000 solar panels will provide 5.7 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 650 houses in the St. Louis area, Ameren Missouri officials said.
Bill Barbieri, the utility’s director of renewable strategy, said the O’Fallon center would help determine the size of future solar energy projects.
Ameren plans to complete the project’s design, obtain necessary permits and begin construction by April 2014.
Barbieri said the project’s cost would be determined after its contractor, MC Industrial Inc., got bids for the solar panels and other equipment the center requires. Similar projects have cost between $10 million and $20 million, he said.
Missourians For A Balanced Energy Future, a lobbying group that backed Ameren’s unsuccessful efforts to develop a small nuclear modular reactor, said the solar project was a significant commitment to locally generated renewable energy.
In a news release, the group’s executive director Irl Scissors added that decisions by Kansas City Power and Light to offer consumers wind energy and the city of Columbia, Missouri, to raise renewable-energy standards would provide more Missourians with clean energy.
The federal agency estimates that utility-scale solar energy capacity will rise 40 percent by the end of 2015, with photovoltaic capacity accounting for 85 percent of the growth.
Barbieri said the O’Fallon facility would provide only a tiny fraction of the Ameren Missouri’s power needs but would help determine how an intermittent source such as a solar energy could be part of the electrical grid.
“When the sun shines we will be taking all the power from there,” he said.