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Ameren : Illinois Grid Modernization Delivering Results

07/27/2015 | 01:24pm US/Eastern

Fewer and shorter outages saving customers $48 million annually; new tools giving customers greater control over their energy usage and costs

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. , July 27, 2015 /PRNewswire / -- Ameren Illinois customers are experiencing fewer and shorter power outages as a result of electric grid upgrades the company has implemented under the state's Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA). These reliability improvements are saving its customers an estimated $48 million each year.

Since the modernization program began in 2012, the installation of storm-resilient utility poles, automated switches, and an upgraded distribution grid have resulted in 238,000 fewer annual electricity service interruptions on average. And when customers do experience an outage, Ameren Illinois is restoring power 19 percent faster on average than in previous years.

"By all measures, the modernization plan is working for our customers and for Illinois ," said Richard Mark , President of Ameren Illinois. "Reliability has improved 17 percent, outages are down and good paying jobs are being created at a time when our state sorely needs them."

More than 330 employees and an additional 1,000 contract workers have been hired to support investments in Ameren Illinois' electric system and operations. In addition, Ameren Illinois is on track to exceed its EIMA full-time equivalent job creation commitment of 450 direct, contractor, or induced jobs during its peak program year. Under EIMA, Ameren Illinois expects to invest an additional $122.2 million on system improvements in 2015 towards a total expected investment of $643 million over the 10 year life of the program.

The company also reports that it is ahead of schedule in installing advanced meters, two-way devices that will provide customers with enhanced energy usage data and access to tools and programs to help them use less energy. In 2015, Ameren Illinois plans to deploy 142,000 electric meters at customer locations in central and southern Illinois . This month, Ameren Illinois launched a suite of on-line tools to help its customers develop personalized energy savings plans.

"Today our customers have access to information that puts them firmly in control of their energy bills," said Mark. "Over time the upgrades will help us detect and isolate outages faster while giving our customers even more ways to manage their usage and contain costs."

The 2014 National Grid Modernization Index, developed by the GridWise alliance and the Smart Grid Policy Center, ranks Illinois 3rd in the nation for its grid modernization policies, investments, and activities, trailing only Texas and California . Illinois moved up from 10th place in 2013.

To learn more about Ameren Illinois' modernization program, visit AmerenIllinois.com/focus or follow the company at Facebook.com/AmerenIllinois and on Twitter @AmerenIllinois.

Forward-looking Statements

Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed under Risk Factors in Ameren Illinois' Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014 , and elsewhere in this release and in our other filings with the SEC, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward-looking statements:

  • regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions, including changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations, such as Ameren Illinois' April 2015 annual electric delivery service formula update filing and future regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions that seek to change regulatory recovery mechanisms;
  • the effect of Ameren Illinois participating in a performance-based formula ratemaking process under the EIMA, including the direct relationship between Ameren Illinois' return on common equity and 30-year United States Treasury bond yields, the related financial commitments required by the EIMA, and the resulting uncertain impact on the financial condition, results of operations, and liquidity of Ameren Illinois;
  • our ability to align our overall spending, both operating and capital, with regulatory frameworks established by our regulators in an attempt to earn our allowed return on equity;
  • the effects of increased competition in the future due to, among other factors, deregulation of certain aspects of our business at either the state or federal level;
  • changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary, fiscal, tax, and energy policies;
  • the effects on demand for our services resulting from technological advances, including advances in customer energy efficiency and distributed generation sources, which generate electricity at the site of consumption;
  • the timing of increasing capital expenditure and operating expense requirements and our ability to recover these costs in a timely manner;
  • the cost and availability of purchased power for distribution, and the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodity, including our ability to recover the costs for such commodity and our customers' tolerance for the related rate increases;
  • the effectiveness of our risk management strategies and our use of financial and derivative instruments;
  • business and economic conditions, including their impact on key customers, interest rates, collection of our receivable balances, and demand for our products;
  • disruptions of the capital markets, deterioration in credit metrics of the Ameren companies, or other events that may have an adverse effect on the cost or availability of capital, including short-term credit and liquidity;
  • our assessment of our liquidity;
  • the impact of the adoption of new accounting guidance and the application of appropriate technical accounting rules and guidance;
  • actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions;
  • the impact of weather conditions and other natural phenomena on us and our customers, including the impact of system outages;
  • the construction, installation, performance, and cost recovery of transmission and distribution assets;
  • the effects of strategic initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and any related tax implications;
  • labor disputes, work force reductions, future wage and employee benefits costs, including changes in discount rates, mortality tables, and returns on benefit plan assets;
  • the inability of our counterparties to meet their obligations with respect to contracts, credit agreements, and financial instruments;
  • legal and administrative proceedings; and
  • acts of sabotage, war, terrorism, cyber attacks, or other intentionally disruptive acts.

Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events.

SOURCE Ameren Illinois

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