ST. LOUIS, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) officials today announced that its Missouri utility operating company, AmerenUE, submitted plans and an environmental report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to rebuild the upper reservoir of its Taum Sauk Plant -- assuming successful resolution of outstanding issues with agencies of the state of Missouri.
According to the FERC filing, construction would begin in 2007, with the plant returning to service in 2009. The FERC has indicated that the agency will seek public comment on this filing.
AmerenUE also stressed that the reservoir would be rebuilt following criteria used in current dam design and construction practice. The upper reservoir will be constructed with roller compacted concrete (RCC) based upon a design by Paul Rizzo & Associates; this design satisfies current guidelines established by the FERC.
"We would not be returning this plant to service if we were not absolutely certain that our design met, or exceeded, all modern safety criteria," said Thomas R. Voss, AmerenUE president and chief executive officer. "After much analysis, we are now confident that this plant can be returned to service and operated safely to restore a critical source of reliable power to our customers."
Voss also noted that insurance is expected to cover the costs of the rebuild. He pointed to the plant's economic impact on the nearby community as a source of employment and significant local tax revenue. Taum Sauk Plant also plays a unique role in Ameren's system because of its "black-start" capability -- the ability to begin generating electricity in the unlikely event of a loss of grid power.
The decision came more than a year after the Dec. 14, 2005, breach in the plant's upper reservoir that caused significant flooding in the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. Built in 1963, AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Plant is a "pumped-storage" hydroelectric plant. It stored water from the Black River in the upper reservoir, built atop the 1,590-foot-high Proffit Mountain and released the water to generate electricity when power was needed.
The rebuilt dam would include such safety features as -- A crest elevation for the RCC dam design that will be in excess of the highest anticipated water surface, including rain events or high water levels; -- An overflow release structure, to protect against damage to the RCC structure in the unlikely event that redundant control systems fail and the upper reservoir overflows. While the design is not yet final, the overflow release structure is not expected to ever be used. This is because of the multilayered defense in depth that will exist through a combination of technical monitoring systems and daily operating procedures that will be independent of each other; and -- Multiple, independent lines of defense -- including continuous video camera monitoring of the upper reservoir water levels -- to ensure that proper water levels are maintained in both the upper and lower reservoirs. There will also be separate instrumentation and monitoring systems that will be dedicated solely to dam safety.
AmerenUE is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation. Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers over a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this release and in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking statements:
-- regulatory or legislative actions, including changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations; -- changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary and fiscal policies; -- business and economic conditions, including their impact on interest rates; -- weather conditions and other natural phenomena; -- the impact of system outages caused by severe weather conditions or other events; -- generation plant construction, installation and performance, including costs associated with AmerenUE's Taum Sauk pumped-storage hydroelectric plant incident and its future operation; -- recoverability through insurance of costs associated with AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Plant incident; -- the impact of current environmental regulations on utilities and power generating companies and the expectation that more stringent requirements will be introduced over time, which could have a negative financial effect; -- labor disputes, future wage and employee benefits costs, including changes in returns on benefit plan assets; -- legal and administrative proceedings; and -- acts of sabotage, war, terrorism or intentionally disruptive acts.
Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events, or otherwise.
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