Ameren is a utility company that serves the total of 2.4 million electric and nearly one million gas customers in Illinois (Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU)) and Missouri (AmerenUE). Ameren started its smart meter installation project in 2006 . The contract was signed between Ameren Illinois and Landis+Gyr, a Swiss based Energy Management company in 2006 [1, 2, 3]. The smart power grid includes a mesh network using radio frequencies that communicates meter data from the smart meters back to the Utility Provider . The smart grid can notify Ameren of any power outages through the devices themselves that act as communication nodes. Also, the utility is aiming to link the 1.1 million smart meters to the SCADA system, which can help in 2-way data communication and monitoring [2, 4]. AIU is also participating in the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative (ISSGC), whose report is anticipated by October 2010.
Ameren has invested in the following areas in smart grid applications:
- The transmission grid: Ameren has installed special sensors for condition monitoring, preventing disturbances, and allowing Ameren to incorporate greater quantities of energy from renewable energy sources.
- The substation grid: Ameren has installed communication systems for condition monitoring and online diagnostic checks at hundreds of its substations. These technologies enable the self-healing grid.
- The distribution grid: Ameren has automated the distribution grid, allowing the identification of outage and remote distribution device control.
- Smart metering: Ameren has also automated many of its meters that allow energy consumption to be read remotely through a network of radio system.
AIU launched its Power Smart Pricing program in 2007 that offers residential customers a real-time pricing option for electric supply. New meters that are capable of collecting hourly electricity usage are installed in the homes of those who participate in the Power Smart Pricing Program. In October 2009 AIU also launched its E-Smart Thermostat Program. This initiative provides for the installation of a free programmable thermostat, enabling AIU to cycling a customer’s air conditioner for two-hour periods up to 12 times a year.