Crews had made good progress by the evening of Jan. 13, nearly cutting in half the number of distribution feeder circuits out of service. Those and other repairs reduced the total number of customers out to about 90,000 by 10:00 p.m., Jan. 13. However, additional icing in the overnight hours brought the total number back up to about 150,000 by 5:00 a.m., Jan. 14. That number continues to change as more winter weather moves into the area.
"It's important to realize that just looking at the total outage count number on our Web site does not tell the whole story," said AmerenUE Senior Vice President for Energy Delivery Richard Mark. "We've had areas where we've restored power to hundreds or even thousands of customers, only to have the numbers rise again significantly due to more ice buildup on lines and trees. Unfortunately, we will probably see more of that if the third phase of this storm hits the area this evening as the weather experts have predicted it will."
Currently, about 1,400 linemen are on the ground in Missouri, and 600 are working in Illinois. Another 500 are expected to arrive later today, and Ameren continues its outreach to utilities across the nation. Contractor and other utility crews have already come from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and unaffected parts of Missouri. More than 1,300 tree-trimming/forestry crews are working to deal with tree limbs on lines and other vegetation issues.
Restoration times are not available due to the changing nature of the storms; they will be made available as soon as reliable forecasts on restoration can be made.
Hardest hit areas in the St. Louis Metropolitan area remain St. Charles, Wentzville and West and North County.
Mark stressed that safety is the top concern for both employees and customers now, as large trees and tree limbs are still bearing significant accumulations of ice and could fall at any time. In addition, he again offered these critical safety tips:
? Customers should stay away from downed lines and report them to their Ameren utility company.
? For customers who are without power in the cold and unable to get to a warm location, Ameren recommends staying in one room, wearing layers of clothing and wrapping up in blankets.
? Customers using an alternate heat source must be sure to follow all instructions, use fire safeguards and ensure proper ventilation.
? Customers using generators must follow all safety precautions listed in the owner's manual and only use them in well-ventilated areas.
Other tips for customer safety and for coping with winter power outages can be found on www.ameren.com
Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.4 million electric customers and one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.