Missouri finalizes plans for new 5.7 MW solar energy center


Plans have been finalized to begin construction on Missouri's largest investor-owned solar energy center. The 5.7 MW facility will be located in the St. Louis neighborhood of O'Fallon, and will be built by local energy heavyweights, Ameren Missouri.

Construction is scheduled to begin in April, with grid completion expected by December, according to Ameren Missouri CEO and president, Warner Baxter.

"We are building the largest investor-owned solar energy center in Missouri history because Ameren Missouri is committed to powering the quality of life for our customers with cleaner energy derived from a diverse mix of energy sources, including renewables," he said.

During construction of the facility, an estimated 70 local jobs will be created, according to Ameren Missouri's calculations. The O'Fallon Renewable Energy Center will feature in excess of 19,000 solar panels across 19 acres, built on a plot adjacent to the company’s Belleau substation. Power from the plant will be used to generate clean solar energy for 650 local homes in the St. Louis area.

Over a century ago, Ameren Missouri took its first foray into the world of renewable energy when it opened its first hydroelectric energy center in the state. In 2012, the company unveiled its Maryland Heights Renewable Energy Center – a biofuel facility – and has been instrumental in the installation of more than 1,800 residential and commercial solar installations.

"We are committed to renewable energy as one solution to meeting our customers’ long-term energy needs," added Baxter. The company also revealed details of a pilot PV research program it undertook in 2010. By fitting 100 kW of solar panels atop its St. Louis HQ, Ameren Missouri was able verify the effectiveness of the technology at close hand, learning much about the operational aspects of solar and plowing that knowledge into its business objectives. "The O'Fallon solar farm will allow us to expand our expertise with a utility-scale facility."

O'Fallon Mayor Bill Hennessy expressed his delight that the company chose O'Fallon for its solar energy center, saying: "O'Fallon is proud of its reputation as a green community. The O'Fallon Renewable Energy Center will be an excellent complement to our city’s environmental focus and will be a welcome boost to our economy with the construction jobs it will create."

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