FREEBURG, Ill. — Nearly half of the natural gas Ameren Illinois customers will use this winter is already in the state, but you might be surprised at where it is stored.
Eric Kozak with Ameren Illinois said the state "has some natural geologic formations that allow us to store gas in the ground."
You don’t see them because they are deep under the farm fields of Illinois in a dozen locations across central and southern Illinois including the Freeburg storage facility just south of town. Other facilities in our area include Centralia and Hillsboro Illinois.
"These are natural gas and oil fields where the gas was taken out and depleted, so we repurposed them," Kozak said. "We take gas from the pipeline and put it in the ground."
The underground storage capacity in the Freeburg site could fill a container the size of Busch Stadium more than 80 times.
It's a cost-effective way of insuring availability of natural gas during the coldest part of the year because Ameren Illinois buys the gas during the warm months when natural gas prices are typically cheaper and demand is lower. Forty to forty-five percent of all the natural gas used this winter by Ameren Illinois customers was stored before November.
Kozak says these underground storage fields have "two big benefits, one is that we have the gas right here in Illinois now that we can use in the winter time and we buy is the summer when gas is cheaper."