Ameren Illinois strengthening energy delivery network in Jacksonville

By Nick Kovatch on February 20 at 1:36pm

Jacksonville journeyman lineman Randy Nelson inspects a new generation of automated and remotely controllable switching device called an IntelliRupter.

Ameren Illinois is investing about $1 million in electric infrastructure upgrades in the Jacksonville area.

This spring Ameren Illinois will rebuild 2.3 miles of a distribution line to improve reliability and add capacity to meet the needs north of New Berlin. The added capacity is similar to expanding a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway.

To help aid restoration times of customer outages, Ameren Illinois is replacing 1.5 miles of power line in southwest Jacksonville. The new line will improve flexibility when switching to a different substation in the event of an outage as well as increase circuit capacity into the west side of the city along West Morton for continued load growth in the area.

Bruno Stopka is Director of Division II Operations for Ameren Illinois.

“We have new customers that are expanding on their plants,” says Stopka. “We are obligated to serve them. We may have a conductor there that was suitable years ago, but with the expansion of some of the businesses we have to provide more reliable service so we don’t overload those circuits.”

The project should be completed by late summer.

Ameren is also adding three IntelliRupters to the electric system on the south side of Jacksonville.

Stopka says the technology will isolate an outage and significantly reduce the length of outages.

“We have these IntelliRupters that are smart switches that talk to one another,” says Stopka. “So if it senses an outage it will talk to the adjacent switch and automatically switch that circuit back. In today’s world and in the past we’ve had to manually send people to do manual switching, but these IntelliRupters are a great piece of technology to sense the circuit, see the fault and tell the other device down the road that it needs to switch in.”

Also, Ameren Illinois is adding automated controls to a switch on the subtransmission system between West Roodhouse and Jacksonville Industrial Park. The added communications technology, known as SCADA, provides real-time views and control of this switch. Dispatch offices can respond quickly to system issues as well as increase reliability through automation and control.

The IntelliRupters and smart grid technology should be completed next month.

Stopka notes that Ameren Illinois field crews and contractors will log more than 2,600 work hours on the projects. Ameren Illinois is investing $3.5 billion over the next five years to build a next generation energy delivery system.