Ameren Illinois begins massive system upgrade

CHATHAM - A 10-year, $400 million project that would overhaul natural gas distribution throughout central and southern Illinois has been started by Ameren Illinois.

The system upgrade began after a 2013 state law was passed, and several communities will be affected by this project.  In Chatham, approximately 14,400 feet of steel gas line and 300 residential service lines will be replaced.

Upon completion, the project will replace up to 350 miles of steel pipe with polyethylene pipe, as well as adding over 450,000 "smart meters" and upgrading 70 stations that regulate gas from interstate pipelines.

According to Ameren Illinois president and CEO Richard Mark, some of that pipe is 50 years old.

Ameren Illinois is expected to hire about 80 full-time employees to complete the work.

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