© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ameren Missouri announces plans to open third solar facility in Montgomery County

Ameren Missouri
An Ameren Missouri employee inspects solar cells. The company is planning to build a third solar power facility.

Ameren Missouri has announced plans to build a new solar facility.

The site will be an expansion of the company’s Community Solar program, with a third solar facility set to be built alongside the existing Montgomery Community Solar Center in New Florence.

The company’s decision aims to support the demand of more than 4,700 of its customers who want to use renewable energy through a voluntary program.

Ameren Missouri has more than a million electric customers.

Rian Heidbrier, a program supervisor of renewables at Ameren Missouri, said this facility will help Missouri be more sustainable.

Ameren customers can choose how much solar energy they want to subscribe to at a higher rate. She said even subscribing to 10% of solar energy, which costs around $10 a month, can make a difference.

“That will really help Ameren Missouri to increase the renewable energy that we’re putting onto the grid,” Heidbrier said. “I think if everybody does a little bit, then we can really make a big impact.”

The seven-megawatt facility is awaiting approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission. If approved, Ameren said construction could start in spring of next year and begin serving customers in 2026.

James Owen, the executive director of Renew Missouri, a nonprofit organization focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency, said public interest for solar energy at Ameren is increasing despite customers having to pay a premium for it.

“Even with that extra cost, demand is still significant, and I am very encouraged by that,” Owen said. “I certainly hope that utilities and regulators see that and say, ‘Hey, we need to keep this momentum going.’”

Ameren has a company-wide goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. Owen said the company should put more emphasis on increasing renewable energy use since many large corporations are looking to expand in renewable energy-heavy regions.

“If your goal is carbon neutrality and not building out more renewables, businesses are not going to locate here, and I think St. Louis needs to be very concerned about the fact that they are losing people in the area,” he said. “Are they going to be seeing businesses relocate here or stay here? I think Ameren absolutely has an obligation as a public service utility to make sure they are a part of that solution as opposed to being a part of the problem.”

Madison Holcomb is a Summer '24 newsroom intern at St. Louis Public Radio and a rising senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.