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Sierra Club Resolution Urges Ameren to Move to Renewables

The Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club has filed a resolution with shareholders of Ameren Corp., in an effort to compel the utility to generate more of its electricity through renewable energy sources, specifically wind and solar.

The environmental group filed the resolution with Ameren on Friday. The utility provides electricity to about 2.4 million customers and natural gas to 900,000 customers, across 64,000 square miles in Illinois and Missouri. The resolution should receive a vote at the company's next shareholder meeting, which according to reports could be held in April 2016.

The resolution calls for Ameren to increase its share of energy generated by renewables to 30-50% by 2030, and to 70-100% by 2050. It also states that while other utilities across the nation are making an effort to comply with the finalized version of the Clean Power Plan (see Daily GPIAug. 3), Ameren is lagging behind -- currently burning the 14th most coal among utilities and relying on 76% of its power from coal, compared to the national average of 39%.

"Right now, Ameren is underinvested in wind and solar, compared to its pure utilities in the area," chapter director John Hickey told NGI on Monday. "Ameren is an outlier and is continuing to run their outdated coal plants, some of which went online in the mid-1950s.”

Hickey added that the second-largest utility in Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light Co., currently generates 12% of its energy from wind and solar. By comparison, Ameren is at 1%.

"We feel it's time for the company to transition, and that a lot of shareholders share our concern," Hickey said.

In a statement, Steve Whitworth, Ameren’s senior director for environmental policy and analysis, said the company has been transitioning to cleaner energy for several years.

“For years, we have been executing our 20-year energy plan that is supported by stakeholders throughout Missouri,” Whitworth said. “Our plan includes different kinds of electric generation such as renewables, natural gas, hydro and nuclear. It takes into consideration factors such as costs, risks, fuel diversity, customer preferences and economic development opportunities. We absolutely support cleaner energy.”

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