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Ameren Missouri, which has paid out millions of dollars in solar rebates to its customers, is eyeing the development of its own much larger solar energy project in St. Charles County.

In a filing with the Missouri Public Service Commission, the St. Louis-based utility said it intends to file a request for a certificate to build, own and operate a utility-scale solar energy project in the O’Fallon area. The formal request could come as soon as mid-January.

Trina Muniz, an Ameren Missouri spokeswoman, declined to provide any specifics and said the company yet hasn’t made a commitments to develop a solar project in the area.

“We think there’s good possibility in the O’Fallon area,” she said, adding that Ameren hasn’t purchased any real estate or determined how large of a project it might be.

There’s also no consensus on what’s meant by “utility-scale.” The Solar Energy Industries Association includes projects over 1 megawatt, while the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory defined the term in a 2012 report as anything over 5 megawatts, or about 1,000 times larger than a typical residential rooftop solar array.

So far, Ameren’s only foray into solar energy is a 100-kilowatt system on the roof of its Chouteau Avenue headquarters. The project was installed to provide a “testing ground” to compare three different solar technologies.

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