Ameren Microgrid

Location: 
Champaign, Illinois
Project Owner: 
Ameren Illinois
Project Type: 
Utility microgrid
Project Partner: 
S&C Electric Company, Northern Power Systems, Yingli and Caterpillar


“With the technologies we’re testing at our Champaign microgrid, we’re on the ground floor of a movement that will one day reshape how energy is produced and delivered to our customers. We’re proud that our efforts, and those of our project partners, have been recognized with the prestigious PEER certification.”

-Richard J. Mark, chairman and president, Ameren Illinois

Located near the University of Illinois, the Ameren Microgrid is considered one of the most technologically advanced microgrids in the world. In the event of a power outage, the Ameren Microgrid uses intelligent automation and controls to island from Ameren’s grid. The microgrid will use the available generation resources and energy storage to reform the grid in order to provide stable, long-term power to residents and businesses. During normal operation, the microgrid uses the on-site generation resources to optimize the efficiency of the power system, while Ameren tests its ability to aggregate distributed energy sources and serve live customer loads on an actual utility distribution feeder. One unique feature of the Ameren Microgrid is its ability to seamlessly transition customers back to the utility grid after islanding, without customers experiencing an outage.

The Ameren microgrid is one of the few microgrids in the world that operates at utility-scale voltages, between 4 kV and 34.5 kV, and has multiple levels of control. Ameren is also the first investor-owned utility to use a microgrid to island customers on an active feeder. The cyber-secure IPERC controls will determine when the needed load is too great for renewables alone to carry, and power the generator or energy storage system to assist.

A substation microgrid such as this one is a relatively new concept that Ameren is deploying to improve service and reliability. A PEER certification validates the engineering expertise and careful planning that went into developing this facility. PEER Gold status is an endorsement of Ameren's and S&C's ability to meet a high standard for performance excellence. Working through the PEER certification process was an excellent opportunity to think through what has made this project a success and identify areas for potential improvement in the future.