Ameren Corp. executives highlighted an investment pipeline of more than $40 billion through 2030 on the company's second-quarter earnings call Aug. 6.
For 2021 through 2025, Ameren plans to spend $17.1 billion, with $8.5 billion allocated to Ameren Missouri, legally known as Union Electric Co., with an additional $500 million for renewables at the utility. Ameren plans to use $3.7 billion for Ameren Transmission Co., $2.7 billion at Ameren Illinois Co. electric distribution and $1.7 billion for Ameren Illinois natural gas, executives outlined in their presentation.
The remaining approximately $23 billion in additional investment includes modernizing the electric and gas transmission and distribution grid and about $3 billion in new renewables at Ameren Missouri included in its 2020 integrated resource plan.
The $40 billion estimate of investments excludes any "new mutually beneficial transmission projects," Chairman, President and CEO Warner Baxter said. The investments also do not include "significant infrastructure investments for electrification at this time," Baxter added.
That total investment estimate could grow considerably if large regional transmission projects are realized, Baxter said.
Selecting renewable projects for the integrated resource plan processes at Ameren's utilities includes focusing on transmission and connections "where developers may be in a queue to try and move things forward," Baxter said. "That's, frankly, how we were successful in moving in a very thoughtful and timely fashion with our 700 MW of wind generation."
Baxter said the company is seeing a backup for projects but added that it's "premature" to say whether there are price increases or what the specific challenges may be.
"We're still going through the process, still talking to developers, working with [Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc] and others," Baxter said. "The only thing I do know is that we have ... unique expertise to ... execute these important transmission projects, not just for our projects, but frankly, the projects that have regional and, frankly, countrywide positive implications to move forward to clean energy transition. ... It's not new to us."
Ameren's infrastructure investment plans assume "constructive energy policies and ratemaking," according to the earnings presentation, but the company is still waiting and watching for seemingly stalled energy legislation in Illinois.
Baxter declined to comment on a timeline for the resolution.
"I learned long ago not to have to make predictions about legislation, and especially in this particular case here, it's a complex piece of legislation," Baxter said, adding that the company was working to ensure a "constructive solution that's going to enable us to make the investments we need to make in the energy grid and earn fair returns in the state of Illinois."
The Downstate Clean Energy Affordability Act failed to move forward during the legislature's regular session that ended May 31, but it is still being considered during the summer session. Baxter said the measure would build on Ameren Illinois' efforts to invest in energy infrastructure, keep customer rates low and move the state closer to its goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.
Matters that have held up the proceeding include the payment of a prevailing wage for renewable energy projects, but the bigger problem has been a schedule for decarbonization in the state.
Ameren reported net income attributable to common shareholders of $207 million, or 80 cents per share, compared with net income of $243 million, or 98 cents per share in 2020. The S&P Capital IQ consolidated GAAP estimate was 88 cents per share.
The company reaffirmed its 2021 earnings guidance range of $3.65 to $3.85 per diluted share.