Ameren Illinois says it plans to help build out a network of public electric vehicle charging stations, including some in Rivian’s backyard here in central Illinois.
Ameren’s service territory includes the lower two-thirds of Illinois, where there are only about 60 publicly accessible charging stations, said Theresa Shaw, Ameren’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs and financial services. That threatens to hold back the transition to electrification, she said, as people may be less inclined to buy an EV if public charging stations are scarce.
“We obviously have a lack of infrastructure now,” Shaw said.
Ameren and five other energy companies recently announced plans to build out a “vast network of Midwest EV charging stations.” It would be Ameren’s first foray in public charging.
Ameren Illinois does not have a specific number of stations it plans to build (or work with a third-party company to build), Shaw said. But the vision is to place them at major intersections of all nine interstates in its service territory, plus along other major routes, Shaw said. The goal would be to have a pay-per-use charger available every 30 to 50 miles, she said.
Ameren might partner with a third-party, for-profit entity to get the charging stations built. Or, if that’s not feasible in underserved areas, Ameren could build them itself, Shaw said.
“We have a unique position as a utility. Building infrastructure — that’s what we think we do best,” she said. “This is work we know how to do.”
Ameren’s plans are subject to regulatory or legislative approval, Shaw said. The utility is pushing for passage of the Downstate Clean Energy Affordability Act that was introduced last spring and remains pending in Springfield. Among other things, the legislation would jump start the EV market in Illinois, including incentives for third parties or utilities to build out charging infrastructure, Shaw said. The overall package is projected to cost Ameren customers about $12 a year, on average, she said.
“We’re hopeful that legislation will get traction,” she said.
Ameren Illinois also announced a goal to buy only all-electric light-duty vehicles for its fleet by 2030. The company has pre-ordered several Rivian trucks and recently worked with the company on a reliability project at its Normal manufacturing plant, Shaw said.
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