Ameren Illinois opened the Technology Applications Center (TAC), a new testing facility that should help businesses in the state of Illinois test newly developed smart grid technology applications, business models and other improvements by using the facility’s infrastructure and resources.
The facility will also be very beneficial to Illinois by facilitating research and development of smart grid technologies and support the state’s effort to foster job creation and develop its economy.
Richard Mark, president and chief executive officer at Ameren Illinois, commented, “The TAC will give promising businesses and entrepreneurs access to an on-grid testing facility to help take their innovations to the next level. We must continue to foster an environment of innovation if Illinois is to remain economically competitive and able to create jobs in the 21st century economy.”
The TAC facility is situated to the west of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research Park. Ameren Illinois stated that it will collaborate with the university to work on new smart grid-related technologies. The facility features an on-grid test environment that complements the university’s off-grid testing and simulation capabilities.
Researchers associated with the University of Illinois asserted that academic partnerships such as the one with Ameren Illinois are essential in ensuring key sector needs are met by new researches and adopted by utilities. The collaboration with Ameren is also going to promote the development of a smart grid that is resilient, accommodates innovation, and ensures a sustainable energy future.
Some of the notable features of TAC are: distribution circuit feeders connected to 69,000-and 12,000-volt systems simplifies testing of smart-grid related equipment; accommodation for both utility-scale testing as well as residential products testing; access to larger utility system loads for systems testing; and more.
The TAC is said to be a key component of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) passed by the General Assembly in 2011. Under EIMA, Ameren Illinois is investing an additional $643 million over 10 years, through its Modernization Action Plan, or MAP, with the objective to enhance electric grids to make them more efficient and reliable and to create hundreds of new jobs.
Edited by Ryan Sartor