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Ameren Missouri has begun construction on a project designed to reduce the number of electrical outages and speed power restoration for customers in downtown Jefferson City.

Known as the Smart Grid, new underground equipment with smart technology is being installed throughout downtown to create a self-healing grid that is designed to reduce outage times for some service disruptions from hours to seconds, Ameren officials said.

Workers began installing new switchgear on Jackson Street. The approximately 2,900-pound switchgear is a key part of the storm hardening project.

Work on the $1.2 million project is scheduled to be completed in December.

This project calls for the installation of eight smart switchgears to work together to detect and isolate outages and re-route power. The project also includes the addition of fiberoptic cables to allow streamlined communication with Ameren Missouri's network.

Among the businesses and government agencies that will benefit from these smart technology improvements are Jefferson City Hall and Police Department, Cole County Courthouse, Cole County Sheriff's Department and Jail, Missouri state Capitol, Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Revenue and others in the downtown area.

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"We recognize that the downtown area has seen some service interruptions and know that even short intermittent outages can have an adverse effect on daily lives and local government and business operations," Ralph "Chip" Webb, division director of Central Missouri for Ameren Missouri, said in a company news release. "This project will transform the energy grid into a much more robust, smarter and secure system for families and businesses."

In addition to the downtown smart technology project, Ameren Missouri will upgrade its Fairgrounds substation with new energy delivery cables to provide improved customer reliability. Multiple upgrade projects are also planned throughout Central Missouri and other parts of the state.

The Smart Energy Plan, announced in February, is the largest infrastructure upgrade plan in Ameren Missouri's history and was made possible by the passage of Senate Bill 564 last year by the General Assembly. The plan includes a $5.3 billion capital investment in more than 2,000 electric projects across Missouri. It also includes a $1 billion investment in wind generation to continue Ameren Missouri's transition to using cleaner, renewable energy sources, which will help to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Customers can learn more about the Smart Energy Plan at AmerenMissouri.com/SmartEnergyPlan.

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