Construction crews are getting close to finishing work on Ameren Missouri`s new solar powerplant in O`Fallon, Missouri.
In what used to be a 20 acre beanfield, workers have been building the O`Fallon Renewable Energy Center, an almost six Megawatt power plant, consisting of 19,000 solar panels.
Construction is about 80 percent complete.
“We are moving away more from carbon-based energy and this solar plant is one of the strategies Ameren Missouri in executing on,” said Scott Wibbenmeyer, Ameren Missouri`s Manager of Renewable Development.
Ameren Missouri began dabbling in solar energy by installing panels on top of its headquarters building in downtown St. Louis to see which type work best in this part of the country.
“Solar does make sense here in Missouri,” Wibbenmeyer said. “Obviously you would get a little better performance in the southwest in the desert, but here in Missouri if you set the panels right, you can make it cost-effective and a long-term energy solution.”
When it goes on-line in December, the plant is expected to generate enough electricity to power 700 homes.
And while that does not sound like a lot, Ameren says because it is relatively inexpensive to design and build a solar plant, it is cost-effective.
Afterall the fuel is free.
“Our long term plan is to move into additional renewables,” Wibbenmeyer said. “This will be a test bed for solar, we also have plans to expand solar in the future as well as wind and other renewable generation options.”
Ameren Missouri is requesting a rate increase to pay for the $15 to $20 million it will cost to build the solar plant.
A spokesman says that would mean an increase of between 75 cents to $1 on customers` monthly bills.