Ameren looking for a big return on Solar farm

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

O’FALLON, MO (KPLR) - When sunny days are chasing the clouds away, that's good news for Ameren Missouri's new O'Fallon Renewable Energy Center.

"Everything is operated remotely so we monitor from our downtown office and we only dispatch a person if it's really needed.  So it turns itself on and shuts itself off," says Scott Wibbenmeyer, Manager for Renewable Development, Ameren Missouri.

As dictated by Mother Nature, of course.

This is Ameren's first utility scale solar facility, the size of 19 football fields.

They have a small solar rooftop on their downtown headquarters but this development is big.

"It comes in DC and then we convert it to AC," says Bill Barbieri, Director of Renewable Strategy Policy & Initiation, Ameren Missouri.  "So on a DC basis it's about 5.7 Megawatts but then when you convert it to AC basis it's about 4.5 Megawatts."

That's enough to power 600 homes 24-7.

This is the first summer for the solar farm which opened in November 2014.

"Really comes along pretty simple we put the racking in, laid the panels, intertied all the connections to some converter equipment which transmits or gathers the power and then tie it to our distribution system," says Wibbenmeyer.

"Some more numbers to chew on," says Patrick Clark.  "The panels here sit on a 20 degree angle so they can face south and get the most Sun during the day.  And it takes more than 400-thousand feet of wiring just to make it all work."

Ameren Missouri plans to add more solar in Montgomery County in 2016. Once constructed, it will make it the largest solar facility in the state.

"We do have plans to add wind, more biomass to our generation portfolio so that in the years to come you'll see Ameren making more of a commitment to cleaner, greener energy," says Barbieri.