Ameren Illinois is investing approximately $8.8 million to build a new bulk substation in New Windsor to improve the reliability and performance of its energy delivery system in Mercer, Knox and surrounding counties.

The bulk substation in New Windsor will enable the company to better meet the energy needs of its residential and business customers, while accommodating expected increases in demand.

This project comes on the heels of an $800,000 investment the company made in Galesburg at the end of 2013.

A bulk substation is the destination point for high-voltage electricity carried by large interstate transmission lines. It’s the first step in a process to reduce voltage levels so electricity can be delivered safely to area homes and businesses. When completed in the summer of 2015, the bulk substation in New Windsor will create alternate pathways with distribution substations to re-route and deliver power if an outage occurs, as well as support future residential and business development in the area.

“Improving service reliability is a central component of our plan to upgrade the grid,” said Chad Cloninger, director of Division I Operations for Ameren Illinois. “In addition to our ongoing system maintenance work, we’re investing additional resources in Mercer and Knox counties and throughout central and southern Illinois to improve service reliability for our customers.”

Cloninger notes that Ameren Illinois field crews and contractors from the Galesburg Operating Center will log more than 35,000 work hours on the project.

“We’re looking ahead to what our customers’ energy needs will be in the future and making those improvements today,” said Richard J. Mark, president and CEO of Ameren Illinois. “These projects are not only strengthening the grid, but they are adding jobs and providing a boost to local economies.”

Ameren Illinois is investing $3.5 billion over the next five years to build a next generation energy delivery system and create jobs in central and southern Illinois. Ameren Illinois is fortifying utility poles, installing intelligent switches and sensors, replacing distribution and natural gas transmission equipment, and installing advanced meters throughout its 43,700-square-mile territory. The upgrades will improve service reliability and provide customers with information they can use to take control of their energy usage and costs.