Ameren Missouri evaluates utility-scale solar project for 2014

Union Electric d/b/a Ameren Missouri is working on its own utility-scale solar power project while moving down various avenues to meet its current and near-term Missouri Renewable Energy Standard (RES) needs.

Missouri statute requires investor-owned electric public utilities (IOUs) in the state, including Ameren Missouri, to provide electricity from renewable energy resources that constitutes a percentage of the total retail sales that each utility makes to its customers in the state. A Missouri Public Service Commission rule requires that each IOU file a plan that covers its intended compliance measures for the current year plus the next two years. Ameren Missouri filed this year’s version of that plan with the commission on May 28.

There are two basic forms of compliance that are required under the RES. Compliance with the “non-solar” RES relates to compliance using renewable energy credits (RECs) and/or actual energy that includes the REC from all forms of renewable generation resources (e.g., wind, hydro, biomass, etc.), as renewable energy resources are defined by statute.

There is a separate component, the “solar” RES (S-REC), that requires compliance which can only be met with solar RECs or actual energy that includes the REC from solar generation resources.

Under the non-solar RES, Ameren Missouri currently operates or has contracted for generation with the following eligible renewable resources:

  • Keokuk Hydro-electric Generation Station;
  • Horizon Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm; and
  • Maryland Heights Renewable Energy Center (landfill gas).

The Ameren Missouri Keokuk Hydro-electric Generation Station is located on the Mississippi River in Keokuk, Iowa. The station consists of 15 separate generators, with individual nameplate ratings ranging from 7.2 MW to 8.8 MW. This facility is wholly owned by Ameren Missouri and has been operational since 1913.

In June 2009, Ameren Missouri and Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm I LLC entered into a 15-year power purchase agreement. Ameren Missouri is purchasing 102.3 MW of nameplate generation from the Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm consisting of 65 turbines, located in northeast Iowa.

In June 2012, Ameren Missouri’s newest generating station, the Maryland Heights Renewable Energy Center (MHREC), became commercially operational. This facility burns methane gas produced by the IESI Landfill in Maryland Heights, Mo. in three 4.9-MW gas turbines. This facility generated 37,450 MWhs in calendar year (CY) 2012. In the following years, this facility is expected to gradually increase generational capabilities, reaching about 96,400 MWhs of annually Banked RECs.

For the 2013 compliance year, Ameren Missouri will utilize the generational output from the Keokuk and Pioneer Prairie facilities. Ameren Missouri will continue to place RECs into its account associated with the actual 2013 generation from Keokuk, MHREC and the Pioneer Prairie facilities.

During CY 2012, and again in CY 2013, Ameren Missouri executed transactions adding to its solar bank RECs from Gainesville Regional Utilities. In conjunction with those purchases, in late 2010, Ameren Missouri completed the installation of approximately 100 kW of solar generation capacity at its headquarters facility located in St. Louis. This multi-technology installation produced 104 MWhs of solar generation in CY 2012.

In addition, Ameren Missouri filed a Standard Offer Contract tariff with the PSC in November 2011. This tariff became effective in January 2012, and under the terms of the tariff, Ameren Missouri bought S-RECs from its electric customers who installed or are installing net metered solar facilities (100 kW or less) at their homes and/or businesses. The program was fully subscribed in 2012.

For the 2013 compliance year Ameren Missouri will use S-RECs that have been banked through purchases from SunEdison, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Orlando Utilities and 3 Degrees. During CY 2013, Ameren Missouri said it will continue its evaluation of a potential utility scale solar generation project. Cost, construction potential, siting and permitting requirements, etc., will be evaluated in order to determine future options in meeting the solar RES requirements. Throughout the calendar year, Ameren Missouri said it will continue to accept and evaluate unsolicited proposals from solar developers.

Its own solar project may become a factor in 2014 and beyond

In 2014, for the non-solar RES, Ameren Missouri will continue to generate renewable energy and bank the associated RECs from Keokuk, the Maryland Heights Renewable Energy Center and the Horizon Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm.

In 2014, under the solar RES, the combination of generation from the solar installation at the company headquarters, along with customer and third party procured S-RECs represents the basis by which Ameren Missouri intends to meet its solar compliance requirements. Should the results of the company analysis from 2013 justify construction, Ameren Missouri may begin construction of a utility-scale solar station in the spring of 2014. If this project is pursued, Ameren Missouri would issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an Engineering Procurement & Construction (EPC) contract in the first quarter of 2013. The May 28 filing doesn’t say if such an RFP was issued. Based on responses from any RFP the company will decide how to proceed with potential construction. The facility could be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2014.

In 2015, under the non-solar RES, Ameren Missouri will be receiving full generation from Keokuk, the Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm and the MHREC landfill gas generating facility.

For the 2015 solar RES compliance need, Ameren Missouri will continue to use S-RECs acquired from customers under the previously issued Standard Offer Contracts as well as from generation from the solar installation located at its headquarters building. Should construction of a utility-scale solar generation facility have taken place, then Ameren Missouri will also utilize the S-RECs from such generation. The balance of needs would come from procurement of S-RECs through third-party brokers regardless of whether a utility scale solar generation project is built by Ameren Missouri.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.