AmerenUE SEMO Division Manager Jean Mason says the work is aimed at improving reliability and accommodating new growth throughout the area.
"St. Francois County has experienced significant growth in recent years, and much of that growth has involved customers who use electric heat," Mason says. "This puts an extra-heavy demand on our electric distribution system during the coldest weather."
She says the existing electrical facilities in the area have been in service for many years, and therefore, have been subject to considerable "wear and tear." That condition, combined with heavy growth in electric loads, has resulted in an unacceptable number of power outages in recent years.
"When this work is done, our customers should see a noticeable improvement in service," Mason adds.
Construction began in late February on the first project, which involves replacing 2.3 miles of 12,000-volt power lines along Cypress Street in Park Hills and along State Street in Desloge.
Work on that project was interrupted by the severe storms that struck major portions of the AmerenUE service area April 2, but has since resumed.
The other improvements AmerenUE will be making in the area in 2006 include:
• replacing 3.4 miles of 12,000-volt electric lines along Route DD from the intersection of Old Fredericktown Road to Knob Lick;
• replacing 7.2 miles of 12,000-volt lines northeast of Bonne Terre, extending from the county line along Route JJ, then along Rouggly Road, and then along Route D to Route Y;
• replacing a 3.4-mile section of 12,000-volt line east of Leadington, running from Hurryville Road across Hillsboro Road to Route D, then along Route D north to Highway O, and then along Highway 0 to Hunters Ridge;
• replacing 1.3 miles of 12,000 volt lines in the City of Leadwood; and
• replacing 1.75 miles of 12,000 volt lines south and east of Farmington, extending along Westmeyer Road, then along Route 00, and finally along Route 32. This part of the work will also include upgrading 1.5 miles of single phase circuit along Highway 32 to three phase circuit to carry more electricity.
Although traffic interruptions are not expected, AmerenUE urges motorists to use caution in those areas.
AmerenUE also advises customers that some brief, planned power outages may be necessary to protect worker safety while the work is going on. To minimize customer inconvenience, the company will attempt to notify communities when such outages are scheduled. AmerenUE says some unplanned outages are also possible.
"Due to the nature of the work, it may create some periods when our system in the area is more vulnerable to unplanned power interruptions than it would be otherwise," Mason says. "But once this work is completed, it will mean more reliable service for many years to come."
AmerenUE is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation. The Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
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