Earlene Fox, superintendent of Lesterville R-IV School District, calls the multi-million dollar re-build of AmerenUE’s Taum Sauk upper reservoir a boon for the Lesterville region. At yesterday's behind-the-scenes media tour of the site, Fox told reporter Crystal Britt from KFVS Television in Cape Girardeau the new construction is “the best Christmas present Lesterville could have.”
Fox added that she believes 90 to 95 percent of the residents in Reynolds and Iron counties welcome AmerenUE’s commitment to the region and are confident the St Louis-based utility is doing everything possible to build a safe and productive facility that will contribute essential jobs and tax support to the region.
In November, AmerenUE announced plans to rebuild the reservoir destroyed Dec. 14, 2005, when it was overtopped and water flooded Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. During the past 24 months since the reservoir collapse, AmerenUE has spent more than $50 million to clean up the park and restore the Black River. The company also has continued to provide local tax support for the schools and other county operations and to fund emergency service agencies in the area, even as the Taum Sauk hydroelectric facility has been idle.
AmerenUE has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting tourism in the area and as part of its earlier settlement with federal authorities, is providing $5 million in funding to more than two dozen projects to aid area communities. Lesterville Schools received $900,000 of that money, which helped pay for a new roof for the K-12 school building.
Built in 1963, AmerenUE’s Taum Sauk—a “pumped-storage” hydroelectric plant---stored water from the Black River in the upper reservoir, built atop 1,590-foot-high Proffit Mountain, and released the water to generate electricity when power was needed. The water flowed down a mile-long tunnel inside the mountain, turning turbine-generators to produce electricity. When power demand was low, the same turbines ran in reverse to pump water back to the upper reservoir.
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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CONTACT: Lori Light, of AmerenUE, 314-541-2373