Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois ("ATXI"), a wholly
owned subsidiary of
), has received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission
("ICC") for construction of most of the 400-mile Illinois River
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The commission has sanctioned a certificate of public convenience
and necessity (CPCN) for seven of nine proposed segments on the
route and three of nine proposed bulk substations.
The remaining portions were not approved due to lack of time and
evidence to determine the most cost-effective route. ATXI plans
to request a rehearing for the routing of the remaining segments
that were not approved.
The project has already received the nod from the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission and the Midcontinent Independent System
Operator, Inc. To date, this $1.1 billion Illinois Rivers
transmission project is the largest for Ameren. The project
consists of a new 345-kilovolt transmission line crossing the
Mississippi River near Quincy, Ill., and continues east across
Illinois to the Indiana border.
The CPCN provides the authority to construct or modify new
generating stations or high-voltage transmission lines. Last
month, Electric Transmission Texas ("ETT") - a joint venture
between the subsidiaries of
American Electric Power Co. Inc.
) and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company - and Sharyland
Utilities L.P. have jointly requested the Public Utility
Commission of Texas (PUCT) to amend their CPCN to construct the
Cross Valley Project. The Cross Valley Project is a proposed
345-kilovolt transmission line.
An important part of Ameren Illinois' service reliability
strategy is implementation of the Electric Infrastructure
Modernization Act that was recently passed by the Illinois
General Assembly. Per the company's Modernization Action Plan,
Ameren Illinois will invest $643 million over the next 10 years
to replace and refurbish underground distribution cables, fortify
utility poles, and install new technologies that will quickly
detect power outages and enable services to be restored faster.
This approval allows the company to make a major investment that
will create jobs, enable the delivery of renewable energy while
improving the reliability and efficiency of the electric power
grid. Also, the project would give a significant boost to the
Illinois economy over the next five years.
Ameren's stable and regulated electric power operations in the
Midwest generate a relatively stable and growing earnings stream.
The future growth will be guided by improved plant operations, a
focus on cost management, and installation of emissions reduction
equipment at its generation plants. However, predominantly
coal-based generation assets and weak second quarter results
remain matters of concern. The company presently retains a
short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Among the stocks worth considering in the space are
Huaneng Power International, Inc.
Alliant Energy Corp.
). While Huaneng Power carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy),
Alliant Energy holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).