Ameren Corp. and its utility companies in Illinois and Missouri have launched a major solar energy initiative that will span both states.

As a first step, the corporation is installing solar energy systems at its downtown St. Louis headquarters campus at 1901 Chouteau, while Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) will install solar systems at one of its facilities in Illinois.

The global engineering firm, Burns & McDonnell, with offices in Chesterfield, Missouri, has been chosen to develop a conceptual design for the solar demonstration projects, which would include the latest in solar system technologies.

"At these sites, we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiencies of specific types of solar systems in this region," said Thomas R. Voss, Ameren chief executive officer and president. "After the systems become operational, we will begin offering a range of online information about our findings from the project -- information that should help customers in their own evaluations of different types of solar systems."

This project will be developed in stages, beginning with solar installations either on the roof and/or grounds of two Ameren campuses.

The generating capacities for Ameren's solar installations will range between 25 and 550 kW. Project designs should be completed by mid-April, with the first-phase installation projects completed by the fall of 2010.