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Ameren Illinois Utilities Personnel Have Restored 112,300 Electrical Services; Despite Massive Effort, Strong Winds Cause New Outages
Near Zero Temperatures, Sub-Zero Wind Chills Hamper Restoration Work

PEORIA, Ill., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Though Ameren Illinois Utilities' 1,480 field personnel working 16-hour shifts have restored power to 112,300 electrical services since the ice storm began on Friday, today's strong arctic winds have caused new outages throughout Central Illinois.

Ameren Illinois Utilities personnel have restored service to about 90 percent of those who lost power on Friday. At present, about 13,300 Ameren Illinois Utilities customers are without electricity. In many cases, customers have had their service restored only to lose service later as a result of high winds that can damage ice-covered power lines and snap icy tree limbs that then fall into power lines.

One of the most serious problems facing the Ameren Illinois Utilities crews is a phenomenon known as galloping conductors. This phenomenon occurs when strong winds blow across ice-coated power lines, causing them to swing violently. Galloping conductors can damage power lines, insulators and utilities, resulting in electric service outages. (Note: See Web link for video at the end of this release.)

The electric service restoration effort will continue into the nighttime hours and tomorrow until every customer has power restored. The restoration effort has been made more difficult by near zero temperatures, wind chills to -30 degrees and blowing snow. The Ameren Illinois Utilities expect continued problems until the winds ease and the ice begins melting off of the power lines and trees.

Important electric service restoration information:

-- Check on neighbors and friends, especially the elderly and those with medical conditions to make certain they are safe and warm.

-- The high winds continue to snap tree limbs and damage power lines, causing many power lines to fall to the ground. The public needs to be on the alert for downed power lines. The first safety rule is to stay away from downed power lines and always call the Ameren Illinois Utilities or '911' if you see downed lines. Never go outside in the dark because you won't be able to see a downed power line that could still be energized and dangerous. Stay away from brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines. The Ameren Illinois utility numbers are 888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).

-- Customers planning to use a portable 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 because of the threat of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

-- Keep snow and ice off natural gas meters. Check to make sure the vents are unobstructed to keep the natural gas flowing. However, do not strike the meter or poke it with a sharp object as that may damage it or create a safety problem. Report any natural gas service problem to the Ameren Illinois Utilities. The Ameren Illinois utility numbers are 888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).

-- Be assured the Ameren Illinois Utilities are using every available resource to restore electrical service as rapidly as possible.

Editor's Note:

Current information on the restoration effort, please visit http://www.illinoisoutage.com

    Video of galloping conductors, please visit:

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

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