From: Jim Salter, Associated Press
Published May 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Ameren to Spend up to $1.4 Billion on Pollution Control over Four Years

ST. LOUIS — Utility Ameren Corp. plans to spend up to $1.4 billion over the next four years to bring coal-burning power plants in Missouri and Illinois into compliance with federal emissions guidelines.

The St. Louis-based company's AmerenUE division is Missouri's largest electric utility, and the Ameren Generating Co. and AmerenCILCO divisions operate in Illinois.

In March, the Bush administration ordered reduction in smog and soot pollution across 28 states in the East, South and Midwest, including Missouri and Illinois. The goal was to make air cleaner to breathe for people downwind of coal-fired power plants.

The agency envisions that the clean air rule will prevent 17,000 premature deaths and 700,000 cases annually of bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory ailments while also improving the air in parks and forests.

Ameren has said it expects to spend between $1.4 billion and $1.9 billion over the next decade to bring its power plants up to standard. In a regulatory filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ameren projected spending most of that money over the next four years, including:

-- Between $180 million and $880 million on four power plants in Missouri.

-- Between $380 million and $510 million on seven plants in Illinois.

The ranges are wide because the company hasn't yet chosen which technologies to use to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. The range is particularly unknown for reducing mercury emissions, Ameren spokesman Tim Fox said Thursday.

"There's really nothing on the market that can achieve the reductions we will need to meet the mercury requirements," he said. "Ameren and the industry are looking at technologies to meet those guidelines."

It isn't known how the new requirements will impact the company's bottom line, but Fox said "they've been built into our financial model for some time."

Ameren's costs in Missouri mostly would be passed on to customers. In Illinois, Ameren would have to recover the costs through higher market prices for electricity.

Ameren shares rose 7 cents to close at $53.17 in Thursday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, near the high end of their 52-week range of $40.55 to $53.33.

Source: Associated Press

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