Ameren Illinois has placed employees and contractors on alert in preparation for a winter storm that is expected to impact the company's service territory this weekend.
Ron Pate, senior vice president of Operations and Technical Services, for Ameren Illinois, said Ameren Illinois is taking the following actions:
Customer safety guidance
“Safety is our priority every day of the year, but it takes on added significance when severe weather strikes,” Pate said. “It is vital for residents to stay away from downed power lines because these lines may still be energized. If you see one, please report it to us immediately at 800-755-5000. During an outage, we ask you to stay indoors after sunset because downed lines may not be visible. Stay away from brush, shrubs and fallen trees that may be hiding these lines.”
The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.
Customers who use portable generators during a power outage must remember that they can become deadly when not used properly. The National Electric Code (NEC) requires those who install a portable generator to also install a safety disconnect switch to prevent the electricity produced by the generator from feeding back into utility lines. Never plug a generator directly into an outlet to power a home.
Backfeeding electricity into utility lines thought to be de-energized could result in damage to property. More seriously, backfed power poses an unseen hazard to utility personnel who are working on the power lines. In the event power is backfed into downed power lines, anyone coming into contact with those lines could be seriously injured or killed.
A portable generator can be used to directly power appliances. Use heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all appliances connected to it. Extension cords must be long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway. Portable generators also must never be operated inside a garage or other building, as generator engines produce deadly carbon monoxide.
In addition to the safety and outage information available at AmerenIllinois.com, customers and media can receive timely updates on outage restoration by following the Ameren Illinois news feed at twitter.com/AmerenIllinois and Facebook.com/AmerenIllinois.
About Ameren Illinois
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 816,000 natural gas customers throughout central and southern Illinois. Our service territory covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles and our mission is to power the quality of life. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com. Follow us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois and Facebook.