St. Louis-based AmerenUE recently proposed quadrupling annual spending on efficiency programs to $56 million by 2016 to slow the rate of electricity demand growth. The utility, which sells electricity to 1.2 million Missouri customers, will spend $14 million this year and plans to ramp up its investment over the next eight years, according to a plan field with state regulators. The utility’s goal is to reduce energy demand growth by about 25%, or 540MW, by 2025. Without those efforts, demand in the utility’s service is estimated to rise by 2,000MW, equivalent to the size of two midsize power plants.

Although electricity prices in Missouri are below the national average, the state also ranks low in efforts to reduce energy use, according to a 2007 survey by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “The hope is investments in energy efficiency will help avoid, or at least defer, the need for building new generation power plants,” says Brenda Wilbers, director of energy policy and analysis for the Energy Center at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “This will be the largest investment by a regulated electric utility in Missouri, by far.”