Richard J. Mark, the new President & CEO of Ameren Illinois, met with Jay Bartlett, President & CEO of Prairie Power, Inc., the generation and transmission co-op’s board of directors and Duane Noland, President & CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives on December 11 at PPI’s headquarters in Jacksonville. Both Mark and Bartlett agreed there were opportunities for the electric cooperatives and Ameren to work cooperatively on improving utility infrastructure and moving toward a smarter grid.
Although Ameren and ComEd have had some difficulties getting approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission for investment in infrastructure improvements such as smart metering, Bartlett said 80 percent of the cooperatives have already made the investment in smart metering.
“It fits very well with what you all are trying to build,” Bartlett told Mark. “If there are opportunities where it is mutually beneficial for us to join forces, we are all for that.”
Mark replied, “Ameren as well as ComEd will start gearing up those investments and rebuilding the infrastructure. What we are trying to do is make sure that we do it in a way that is smart, because the investments that we are making today in rebuilding the infrastructure will be the electric distribution system that our children and their children will be using 50 years from now. I’m excited about the future. We will be rebuilding a major part of our system over the next eight years or so. If there is ever any time we can partner and work together in a cooperative way just let us know.”
Ameren Illinois plans to invest about $625 million in its infrastructure in the next 10 years.
Bartlett said, “We believe that a healthy Ameren is important to us. There is a lot that can be done between the cooperatives and Ameren to help keep the lights on for all of our customers. I’m very proud to say the relationship between the cooperatives’ and Ameren’s operations forces remains strong. Everyone is trying to do more with less, and the cost pressures are tremendous. I hope we can continue to improve our ability to coordinate to keep service reliable for everyone.”