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Ameren Invests in Wind And Solar Energy, Aims For Net-Zero Carbon Emissions By 2050

File photo \ Veronique Lacapra
St. Louis Public Radio
Ameren will invest $8 billion in renewable energy over the next two decades. The company's Labadie coal plant is expected to close completely in 2042.

Ameren Missouri will invest nearly $8 billion in renewable energy in Missouri.

The utility will expand its reliance on wind and solar energy and purchase two wind energy facilities over the next few months, Ameren officials said Monday. The investment is part of Ameren’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“We considered the call of many stakeholders, including our customers, to get as clean as we can as fast as we can,” Ameren Chairman and President Marty Lyons said.

Ameren aims to add 3,100 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030 and another 2,300 megawatts by 2040. Ameren officials said the investment would also create thousands of construction jobs.

Ameren officials said that reduced clean energy costs helped make the greater investments possible and that the organization is focused on keeping clean energy affordable.

“As we bring these things in, we're talking about a 20-year time period, we'll adjust rates over time as needed,” Lyons said. “Our rates that we have today, you know, in Missouri, are well below national and Midwest averages, a full 20% below.”

The Missouri Public Service Commission would need to approve any rate increases.

Ameren also plans to close its Sioux Energy Center in 2028 and its Rush Island Energy Center in 2039. Lyons said retiring the two coal-fired facilities and Ameren’s investments in renewable energies are expected to accelerate carbon emission reductions.

“We believe we can achieve targets of 50% [carbon dioxide] reductions by 2030, 85% by 2040, and ultimately can commit to a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Lyons said.

Environmentalists have long said that reducing carbon emissions is necessary to address climate change. But they say that while Ameren is making progress, more needs to be done immediately to address the climate crisis.

“It’s a good step in terms of the clean energy, although it's still not fast enough,” said Andy Knott, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “We're still going to be waiting many, many years to see a reduction in the pollution from these coal plants that is affecting folks in the eastern part of the state dramatically.”

Ameren officials said the organization aims to retire all of its coal-fired energy centers over the next two decades.

The company will first close its Meramec Energy Center in 2022 and two energy generators for the Labadie Energy Center, the state’s largest coal-powered plant, in 2036. The center’s two other coal-powered energy generators are expected to close over the next two decades.

“At the end of the day, that Labadie plant is going to affect the ecology of our river, of our air and land with the coal ash pit,” said Leah Clyburn, an organizer for the Sierra Club.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.