Ameren Illinois

Solar Energy Information Hub 

Ameren Illinois is remarkable for striving to have a strong customer-focus in their operations. Their commitment to an excellent customer experience influences how their interconnections and net-metering process is structured.  Working to adhere to Illinois state guidelines, the Ameren staff puts significant effort into making sure their customers are well-informed. By taking time to respond to their customer’s questions early in the application process, they ensure nearly all applications received are completed properly. This makes applications easy to process, thereby achieving high staff productivity in this business area.

Since Ameren Illinois, is a large investor owned utility, it receives dozens of applications every year. Falling equipment prices, anticipated increases in energy rates, and changes in legislation all indicate that rooftop solar penetration will increase. Due to these facts, there is a distinct possibility that Ameren Illinois will receive over one hundred applications per year in the near future. Their current resource-intensive, low-tech process has limitations and cannot scale indefinitely. However, they have the opportunity to proactively make some changes and stay ahead of customer demand.

History

  • Four original legacy electric companies: Union Electric, CIPS, CILCO, and Illinois Power
  • In 1997, Union Electric merged with CIPS to form Ameren Corporation
  • In 2010 CIPS, CILCO and IP merged to form Ameren Illinois within Ameren Corporation

Company Profile (as of December, 2015)

  • Based in Collinsville, IL
  • Delivers electricity and natural gas to residential and commercial customers
  • 3.3 MW of distributed generation connected
  • 112 wind facilities, 395 solar PV installations

Customers Served (as of December, 2015)

  • 1.2 million electric and 816,000 natural gas customers
  • 43,700 square-mile service area across most of Illinois
  • 1,200 communities

Renewable Portfolio Standard

Ameren Illinois is subject to Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS); the Illinois Power Agency Act:

  • 25% of their power must come from renewable energy sources by 2025
  • This includes a 6% minimum carve-out for solar energy and a 1% minimum carve-out for distributed generation (1.5% and 0.25% respectively of the total power distributed)
  • These sources must be located within Illinois and the adjoining states as much as possible

Roadmap

These roadmap goals are based on attributes of utilities with successful solar programs nationwide, along with input from industry experts. Each goal represents a step toward making solar easier and more cost effective for all customers within your service territory. Your specific roadmap has been customized using a subset of the entire compilation of attributes, based on what is relevant for privately owned utilities in your region.

Expand each focus area below to show its related goals, and click the 'Take Action' button to access the relevant resources designed to help you achieve these goals.

showInformation Access

Current Progress:
0 of 2 goals achieved
0%
Planned

[IA1] Create more written materials for distribution regarding solar and the enrollment process to reduce time spent addressing customer questions and concerns(0)

Most customers’ questions are handled on a case-by-case basis by phone and email, by one single key resource.

Create more written materials for distribution that explain solar energy, interconnections, and net metering, including an online FAQ.

[IA2] Create more written materials to assist customers interested in distributed generation (0)

No links to solar assessment materials are provided on the Ameren website.

Develop educational pamphlets and provide customers with reputable resources (e.g., links to DOE, NREL website) where they can assess whether solar is right for them.

showInterconnection Process Documentation

Current Progress:
0 of 2 goals achieved
0%
Planned

[IPD1] Have a documented procedure to review submitted applications, and for all other steps of the solar interconnection process(0)

The Net Metering Coordinator, Key Account Executive, and Engineering have specific roles related to reviewing submitted applications, but no comprehensive documentation exists for application review procedures.

Create formalized documentation to define roles and responsibilities as they relate to the DG application review process.

[IPD2] Develop materials to train new employees on interconnection procedures(0)

No formal training materials exist for onboarding new team members with responsibilities related to DG application review.

Use the documentation to create comprehensive materials to train new employees to take up the responsibility of handling interconnections.

showApplication Tracking and Management

Current Progress:
0 of 4 goals achieved
0%
Planned

[AT1] Create option for customers to submit applications online for ease(0)

Application materials may be submitted in person or via mail.

Adopt tool that allows for online submission of applications.

[AT2] Allow customers and contractors to view application status in real-time online(0)

Customers can receive updates on their application only by calling or emailing.

Install online tracking software to provide quicker feedback to customers.

[AT3] Utilize software to inform customers of any needed updates(0)

Customers can receive updates on their application only by calling or emailing.

Install online tracking software with the ability to send automated requests when updates are needed.

[AT4] Set automatic reminders to ensure applications continue progressing (0)

Group manually checks to ensure applications are still progressing.

When application is received, use software to set automatic reminders to ensure application progresses in timely manner.

showDistributed Generation Database

Current Progress:
0 of 2 goals achieved
0%
Planned

[DGD1] Create one centralized location to store data from all systems(0)

Application information is not electronically stored.

Utilize software package to store and track solar application information.

[DGD2] Integrate database with online application and mapping tools(0)

Application information is not electronically stored.

Utilize software that interfaces with electronic application submission tool and mapping tools to store and track solar application information.

Resources