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Ameren Illinois Utilities Assign More Than 1,100 Workers to Restore Service Following Significant Ice Storm in Central Illinois

Ameren Illinois Utilities Urge Residents to Avoid Downed Power Lines, Use Generators Safely

PEORIA, Ill., Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- More than 1,100 Ameren Illinois Utility workers and outside contractor personnel from across Illinois are working to restore power to about 42,000 customers in Central Illinois.

Ice damage has resulted in downed power lines in some areas. The Ameren Illinois Utilities warn all residents to stay away from downed power lines, which may still be energized. Residents should stay away from brush and downed trees which may hide downed wires.

Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice accumulated on power lines, causing the highest number of outages in an area stretching from Macomb through Peoria, Bloomington, Lincoln and east through Champaign.

If weather conditions do not deteriorate, Ameren Illinois Utilities officials have set a goal of restoring nearly all customers service by tomorrow evening. The utilities estimate a significant number of customers will have their service restored by midnight tonight.

However, strong winds could set back the service restoration effort. Strong winds can cause damage to ice covered power lines and cause ice covered tree limbs to break and fall into power lines.

Thick ice and falling tree limbs have caused outage numbers to fluctuate. The Ameren Illinois Utilities began experiencing significant outages at about 11:00 p.m. Thursday. Outage numbers continued to climb until dawn.

"Our priority is to safely restore service to all of our customers just as soon as possible," said Bill Prebil, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president of Regional Operations. "Our linemen and other coworkers will continue to work under these difficult conditions until every customer has service restored."

Ameren Illinois Utilities officials are reaching out to communities and any critical care facilities that are impacted and a direct number is being provided to help answer any questions.

If residents see downed wires, they should immediately call 1-888-672-5252 for AmerenCILCO, 1-888-789-2477 for AmerenCIPS and 1-800-755-7000 for AmerenIP

Prebil also warns customers installing generators about safety issues related to their installation. Anyone using a portable generator should follow strict safety requirements to prevent injury or death both to themselves and to the utility field crews attempting to restore power. Customers planning to install a temporary generator must first open the main breaker or remove the main fuses before connecting the generator to the electrical systems. Failure to do this could seriously injure utility crews working on outside power lines, and/or it could cause damage to a neighbor's property or the customer's own equipment.

Customers should never use a portable generator indoors, including in a home, garage, basement, shed or partially-enclosed area - even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent the carbon monoxide exhaust from building up in the home. Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area, away from doors, windows and vents. Customers should also exercise extreme caution when handling fuel for portable generators, especially when re-fueling hot generators.

Information regarding permanently installed generators, a full description of the Ameren Illinois Utilities' power restoration process, along with advice on how customers can cope with outages is available under "Storm Center" on the Ameren Web site: http://www.ameren.com/.

The Ameren Illinois utilities serve 1.2 million electric and more than 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

Web site: http://www.ameren.com/