AmerenUE Responds to Icy Weather, Prepares In Case More Ice Is Headed For Missouri; Offers Tips to Help Customers During Storms
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UPDATE FOR 8:30 p.m., SUNDAY, DEC. 9
AmerenUE officials are prepared for potentially icy weather that may be coming to Missouri. Crews will be ready to roll out at the first sign of trouble tomorrow. All night tonight, AmerenUE will be monitoring outages, system conditions and the weather from its storm center.
Today the company mobilized all available AmerenUE crews in Central Missouri, which was hard hit by icy conditions that caused outages for more than 25,000 customers. The company also called in and placed on alert crews in the Metro St. Louis area in anticipation of potential problems and is bringing in contract crews and calling in line crews from other Midwestern utilities to add more than 200 additional crews to the storm response effort.
The company’s emergency operations center was activated early today. In addition, on Friday the company deployed fully equipped storm trailers, strategically locating them in Central Missouri and elsewhere to get supplies to crews where they are working and to facilitate communications.
Besides the Jefferson City area, the other hardest hit areas were Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike, Warren counties, where more than half of the customers have been restored. In those counties, about 7,500 customers remain without service.
At this point, the St. Louis Metro Area has not experienced any major outages.
With the possibility of more bad weather on the way, it is difficult to offer estimated restoration times to all customers, but AmerenUE officials estimate that it may be Tuesday before all Central Missouri customers are restored.
“During severe storms, AmerenUE’s first priority is to correct potentially life-threatening situations, like downed power lines or hospitals without power,” says Richard J. Mark, senior vice president, Missouri Energy Delivery. “We then implement carefully designed power restoration plans focused on getting power back on for the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.”
He adds that the safety of the public and the crews working to restore power is the most critical priority. In restoring electricity, crews begin with main lines--those that serve thousands of people. Then they move to lines that can affect hundreds; secondary lines that affect dozens; and finally to service lines at individual homes.
Throughout the restoration process, Ameren companies maintain contact with state and local emergency management agencies and designated company staff who provide ongoing service restoration updates to public officials, the news media and customers. Ameren companies also have a system for alerting and mobilizing additional line and service crews from utilities owned by Ameren and from utility companies close enough to AmerenUE service territory but in areas not affected by the storm---calling on them for assistance.
For a full description of AmerenUE’s restoration process and tips on how individuals can prepare for service disruptions, check out the storm site on www.ameren.com.
The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those used for any emergency situation. Here are some tips on dealing with winter storms:
· At all times, stay clear of downed power lines and always call if you see downed lines. Don't walk in standing water, and don't venture out in the dark because you won't be able to see a power line that could still be energized and dangerous.
· Because most major outages are caused by bad weather, start by developing shelter plans for severe storm and tornado conditions.
· If any member of your family has a medical condition, plan and make arrangements to have that person’s special needs met in the event electricity is not available for an extended period of time during a storm.
· Then, assemble a "storm kit" and store it in a secure, centrally located part of your house. Make sure all family members know where to find that kit. It should contain:
o Emergency telephone numbers; flashlights and fresh batteries (avoid using candles, lanterns or oil lamps due to the fire risk); extra garage and house keys so that you aren’t locked out of your home or garage by lack of energy flowing to electrically powered automated systems; a battery-powered radio; a battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock; a supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day); non-perishable foods that don't require heating; blankets, bedding or sleeping bags; a first-aid kit and medications; a hand-operated can opener; special items for infants or family members with special needs; hand tools, such as a screwdriver, scissors and duct tape; household items like plastic utensils, paper plates, waterproof matches and household bleach; identification and copies of important family documents.
· If your electric service is interrupted, be sure to unplug or protect sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge protector.
· Then, check first with a neighbor to see if you are the only one without power. If you are the only one without service, check your panel box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If any breakers are in the "off" position or if a fuse is blown, you should investigate the problem. If you are still without power, or if others in your neighborhood are experiencing a power outage, call your Ameren company, 24 hours a day, seven days a week---and always call as soon as possible to report a downed line or natural gas odor!
· Because Ameren companies have customers on almost every major line who need electricity to operate life-support equipment, the companies can't offer assurances that these customers will get their service restored any faster. If you have such equipment, you need to invest in private back-up power systems and develop alternative care plans to ensure safety and security. You should also register with Ameren's Medical Equipment Registry to make it easier for us to notify you in the event of a planned maintenance outage. Again, for more on this registry or for much more information on what to do during a storm, visit www.ameren.com.
With assets of nearly $20 billion, Ameren through its subsidiaries, serves 2.4 million electric and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.
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