Ameren Unveils Smart Grid Research Center At U Of I
By Sean Powers
A new testing center unveiled Wednesday at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will give businesses the chance to test out smart grid technologies like household appliances, electric cars, and transformers.
Ameren Illinois said the Technology Applications Center, located west of the Research Park, includes a working substation, and a connection to the live grid. Ameren Illinois President and CEO Richard Mark said that is valuable for businesses.
“The uniqueness of this facility is that it can test the newest technology. Its fiber optically connected to the University of Illinois," Mark said. "They have several research things going on, so we can work together in collaboration with the university, and I don’t know of another one in the state that has these advanced technologies that this one has. ”
Speaking at the dedication ceremony, U of I Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise said the substation will help strengthen the university's smart grid research.
“As a research university, we’ve charged ourselves with thinking about what the world is going to be like 20-to-50 years from now, and what the role of a public research university is in solving those challenges,” Wise said. “I think the resiliency of our power supply is one that fits both in the challenges of the next 20-to-50 years, and what a public research university can do.”
Ameren Illinois said it will use the center to find ways of helping customers better manage their energy usage.
Ameren is spending more than $640 million over the next decade to make the electric grid more reliable and efficient, and create hundreds of new jobs. That is because of legislation passed two years ago by the General Assembly that allows utility companies to raise rates to finance those projects.