Jan. 13--Ameren Missouri said today it will build a multimillion-dollar solar energy facility on a 19-acre site next to its electrical substation in O'Fallon, Mo.
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 will help determine the size of future solar-energy projects Ameren might build.
"This is going to be a great learning tool for us," he said.
Ameren hopes to complete the O'Fallon project's design and begin construction by April. Utility officials hope to have the project on line by December. The site is next to Ameren Missouri's Belleau substation, near Highway 79.
Barbieri said the project's cost will be determined after its contractor, McCarthy Industries, gets bids for the solar panels and other equipment the center requires. Similar projects have cost between $10 million and $20 million, he said. The O'Fallon project is expected to generate 50 to 70 construction jobs.
Missourians For A Balanced Energy Future, a lobbying group, said Ameren Missouri's project is a significant commitment to locally generated renewable energy.
"Today's announcement to develop a property exclusively dedicated to offering solar power to consumers is the kind of significant commitment to locally generated renewable energy that MBEF has been urging," Irl Scissors, the group's executive directory, said in a statement. "This kind of project will make Missouri even more attractive to the clean energy industry, bringing additional jobs and economic opportunity to the state."
(c)2014 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Original headline: Ameren Missouri plans to build solar energy center
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