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Ameren Unveils New Microgrid Near University of Illinois

​Ameren has recently finalized the construction of one of the most cutting-edge utility-scale microgrids in North America. Situated at the company’s Technology Application Center (TAC) adjacent to the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, it is unique in that it is one of the only utility-scale microgrids that has the ability to serve live customer loads.

The $5 million facility is part of an industry-wide effort promoting and utilizing clean and renewable resources. The energy sources are wind, solar and natural gas, and they are monitored for quality control. In addition, the facility boasts advanced automation, battery storage and “islanding” – a concept that moves the energy source for an entire distribution circuit from distributed generation sources to the traditional grid.

"Integrating microgrids onto our system can provide cleaner energy and a stronger, smarter grid capable of delivering new products and services to fit future customer and community needs," said Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation. "This facility is one of a series of Ameren's innovative initiatives and partnerships to plan and build a future grid that operates much differently -- an integrated grid that offers new benefits for our customers."

This specific microgrid can generate up 1,475 kilowatts, enough to power 190 homes, and uses a combination of wind turbine systems, solar arrays, natural gas generators and battery storage.

"Our focus on building a next generation energy delivery system has enabled Illinois to emerge as a national leader in smart grid innovation," said Richard J. Mark, chairman and president of Ameren Illinois. "As the technologies we are testing at this microgrid facility become more accessible in the future, our customers will be able to count on Ameren Illinois to help them safely install and cost-effectively operate distributed generation resources."

On top of this, Ameren has plans to install 83,000 smart meters that utilize two-way communication, allowing customers to access energy data and actively employ strategies to reduce energy consumption and save money. Ameren is leading the way in the industry’s development of microgrid technology and smart energy infrastructure.

The full story can be found on Ameren’s website.