Ameren: Cranking Up New Solar Initiatives

Dec. 2.09 | About: Ameren Corporation (AEE)

Ameren Corporation (NYSE:AEE) launched its solar initiative in the states of Illinois and Missouri. As a first step, the utility is installing solar energy systems at its downtown St. Louis headquarters campus, while its subsidiary -- Ameren Illinois Utilities -- will install solar systems at one of its facilities in Illinois.

These projects will be developed in stages, beginning with solar installations on the roof and grounds of two Ameren campuses. The generating capacities for Ameren's solar installations will range between 25 and 550 kilowatts. Project designs are expected to be completed by mid-April of fiscal 2010, with the first-phase installation projects to be completed by the fall of 2010.

Ameren is taking a number of steps to encourage not only the development of renewable energy resources but also more efficient use of energy. The company purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) through a bidding process managed by a state purchasing authority -- the most recent bidding resulted in the purchase of 720,000 RECs for the 12-month period beginning June 1, 2009.

For customers considering solar energy, Ameren is offering a rebate of $2 per watt up to 25 kilowatts or a maximum of $50,000 for qualified new solar electric system installations installed after Jan. 1, 2010. Only solar systems on residential and commercial properties are eligible for this rebate. The company has also agreed to buy 102 MW of wind power for its Missouri customers, enough to power 26,000 households.

St Louis, Missouri-based Ameren is a regulated public utility holding company with subsidiaries operating rate regulated electric generation, transmission and distribution businesses, rate regulated natural gas distribution businesses and non-rate-regulated electric generation businesses in Missouri and Illinois.

Ameren serves over 2.4 million electric consumers and over 1 million natural gas customers in Missouri and Illinois through its principal subsidiaries -- Union Electric Company, Central Illinois Public Service Company, Ameren Energy Generating Company and Central Illinois Light Company. It has a generation capacity of 16,200 MW. Ameren’s unregulated generation portfolio consists of nearly 7,000 MW of primarily coal-fired power plants, of which a significant portion is contracted to serve Ameren’s utilities. We maintain our market Neutral recommendation on the stock.