Ameren Missouri announced this week it plans to develop a 175-turbine wind farm in northeast Missouri that will power an estimated 120,000 homes by 2020.
The news should make green-energy advocates smile.
It may not signal the company’s reinvention, but it is definitely a step in the right direction for a power company whose management has been accused of being slow-footed in embracing renewable energy solutions.
Critics complain Ameren has relied too long on an aging fleet of coal-fired power plants to produce the majority of its electricity for its customers. Ameren is working to silence those critics.
The wind farm, which will be constructed in Adair and Schuyler counties, will produce 400 megawatts of energy when it is fully operational. That represents more than half of the 700 megawatts of new wind-generated power Ameren promised to deliver by 2020 as part of Ameren’s long-term plan to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Ameren’s investment in wind energy is expected to produce an economic boost for the state. Ameren officials say the project will support 450 to 500 construction jobs and eventually approximately 20 full-time positions. The 175 wind turbines will be manufactured in the United States.
Wind energy is helping drive the American economy’s resurgence. The American Wind Energy Association reports that currently there are more than 1,000 utility-scale projects and more than 52,000 wind turbines installed across continental U.S. states and territories. On top of that, there are more than 500 wind-manufacturing facilities in the country.
Employment in the wind energy industry is projected to far outstrip that of other sectors over the next decade. The wind power sector supported a record 88,000 U.S. jobs at the start of 2016 — an increase of 20 percent over the prior year compared with a 1.9 percent increase for payrolls overall. Those numbers are expected to continue their dramatic climb.
Ameren says it is in discussions to develop other wind projects in Missouri and other nearby states, and is committed to spending a billion dollars on its long-term renewable energy plan.
That makes sense. The trend is clear. The falling cost of solar, wind power and energy storage is changing the energy generation paradigm in the United States and, finally, here in Missouri.
That is good news for Missouri consumers.