Ameren moves ahead with renewables, other elements of 2014 IRP

Ameren Missouri continues to execute on the preferred resource plan presented in its 2014 integrated resource plan (IRP) filing, with a focus on transitioning its generation fleet to a cleaner and more fuel diverse portfolio in a responsible fashion.

The utility said in an annual IRP update filed April 12 with the Missouri Public Service Commission that the transition plan includes continued customer energy efficiency program offerings, retirement of approximately one-third of coal-fired generating capacity, which will be reaching the end of its useful life toward the end of the IRP period, and expansion of renewable and cleaner-burning natural gas-fired generation.

Key steps that Ameren Missouri has taken since the filing of the 2014 IRP include:

  • Received approval from the PSC for its second three-year portfolio of customer energy efficiency programs under the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA)
  • Reaffirmed plans to burn natural gas at the coal-fired Meramec units 1 & 2 in April 2016
  • Issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of wind energy resources
  • Initiated identification and evaluation of potential sites for gas-fired combined cycle generation
  • Completed the upgrade of the Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) for the coal-fired Labadie Unit 1 and are currently implementing ESP upgrades on Unit 4 to reduce particulate emissions and comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)
  • Initiated projects to close coal ash ponds and switch to dry handling of coal ash ahead of EPA-mandated deadlines
  • Continued to evaluate the requirements and implications of the EPA’s CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan (CPP), including the value of new renewable energy resource additions under the EPA’s proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) and in light of the extension of tax credits (ITC, PTC) for renewables
  • Obtained approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for extension of the operating license for the Callaway Energy Center

Project development work began in late 2014 for a 15 MW (dc) solar facility in Montgomery County. Ameren Missouri has determined it is appropriate to re-evaluate its previously determined timeline for this project and has decided to delay the start of construction of the Montgomery Renewable Energy Center. The work completed to date for the facility allows Ameren Missouri the flexibility to make adjustments in project plan timelines in line with the new requirements of the CPP.

In the fall of 2014, during discussions with the operators of the landfill at Maryland Heights, it was determined that the landfill would not be in a position to deliver enough gas volume to effectively operate four turbines until possibly the 2025-2026 time frame. The contract was then amended, and plans for installation of the fourth unit have been delayed. The landfill operator will continue to monitor gas production and will advise Ameren Missouri as to when volumes will be sufficient to reliably support a fourth unit.

In December 2015, Ameren Missouri issued an RFP for wind generation with the intention of acquiring a minimum of 50 MW of wind to be added to its generation portfolio no later than 2019. Responses were received on Jan. 22, 2016 and are being reviewed and evaluated.

Since the development of costs for supply side resources for the 2014 IRP, costs for wind resources located in Missouri have dropped by approximately 10% from the original expectation, which is well within the project cost uncertainty range evaluated in the 2014 IRP. Additionally, since Ameren Missouri developed its supply side resource costs, it constructed its solar-powered O’Fallon Renewable Energy Center. In developing and constructing this utility-scale solar facility, Ameren Missouri has gained first-hand knowledge of actual construction costs. These costs are still within the ranges established for the 2014 IRP.

While Ameren Missouri’s preferred resource plan includes the addition of a new combined cycle resource in 2034, the utility is preparing for the possibility of new generation sooner than that to support generation transition planning, including steps that may need to be taken to comply with greenhouse gas regulations. Ameren Missouri has begun evaluating potential sites for new combined cycle generation including greenfield and brownfield options. Initial evaluations focus on permitting and access to transmission, water and fuel.

Ameren Missouri continues to monitor energy development activities including nuclear technology and policy developments to ensure that an understanding of available options is maintained. The combined construction and operating license application for a large nuclear unit that had been submitted in 2008 to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was withdrawn in 2015. Ameren Missouri said it continues to believe that nuclear generation is an important clean energy source for the company and country as demonstrated by approval by NRC of a 20-year license extension to 2044 for its Callaway Energy Center in March 2015.

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.