Ameren Illinois (AI) is a regulated electric and gas delivery company based in Collinsville, Illinois. The parent company is Ameren Corporation located in St. Louis, Missouri. As a delivery company, it is in the business of energy distribution. Within a service territory spanning 43,700 square miles, Ameren Illinois delivers electricity to 1.2 million electric and 806,000 natural gas customers in central and southern Illinois. Their complex delivery system includes about 4,500 miles of electric transmission lines, 45,400 miles of distribution lines, 18,000 miles of natural gas transmission and distribution mains and 12 underground natural gas storage fields .
Ameren started its smart meter installation project in 2006 . The contract was signed between Ameren Illinois and Landis+Gyr, in 2006 [2, 3, 4]. The smart power grid included 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 had been aiming to link the 1.1 million smart meters to the SCADA system, which can help in 2-way data communication and monitoring .
Ameren's continued effort is invested in the following areas in smart grid applications along with advancing the metering technology :
- On Customer's property: Advanced meters provide with more information, tools, and programs to help the customers better control their energy use. By 2019, more than half (62%) of electric customers are planned to receive advanced meters and about 56% of the natural gas meters are to be upgraded too.
- On the grid: High-tech advances, like automated switches and sensors can detect and isolate outages faster improving reliability. Meanwhile, voltage optimization equipment can make sure power gets to customers' homes or businesses as efficiently as possible, reducing energy waste.
- On the facilities: Ameren Illinois had been investing $7 million in two smart grid training centers so that their team is better equipped to serve the customers. Advances in grid and metering technology are expected to help their team to ensure that electric and gas service is there when the customers need it.
AI 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 were installed in the homes of those who participate in the Power Smart Pricing Program. In October 2009 AI also launched its E-Smart Thermostat Program. This initiative provided for the installation of a free programmable thermostat, enabling AI to cycling a customer’s air conditioner for two-hour periods up to 12 times a year.