The $3.3m facility includes a substation and two distribution circuit feeders, which will help the developers to test smart grid-related equipment by connecting to 69kV and 12kV systems on the utility’s energy distribution network.

The TAC, which is component of Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), can accommodate utility-scale testing and also residential products testing, which will include a simulated working kitchen with smart grid-enabled appliances, as well as advanced meters that can be used to test smart grid-related devices.

The facility is located west of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research Park.

This location will help both Ameren Illinois and the university to jointly research smart grid-related technologies and collaborate on testing and validation procedures and also test plan development.

It will also provide an on-grid test environment that complements the university’s off-grid testing and simulation capabilities.

A fiberoptic link between the TAC and the UI power lab will further enhance the collaboration between the facility and the university.

Ameren Illinois president and CEO Richard Mark said, "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," Mark added.