Ameren was created by the combination of three Illinois utilities (CIPSCO Incorporated, CILCO Inc. and Illinois Power Company) and Union Electric Company of St. Louis. The name comes from combining the words American and Energy. Employing more than 8,500 personnel, Ameren powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers across a 64,000-square-mile area. The Ameren Innovation Center collaborates with students and faculty from the University of Illinois and other companies across multiple industries at the Research Park. Their goal is to foster an exploratory environment that focuses on innovations to help Ameren better meet the future needs of its customers.