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Ameren Illinois Utilities Urge Customers to be Prepared for Forecasted Winter Storms

PEORIA, Ill., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- With winter storm warnings and advisories issued for tonight and tomorrow in significant portions of the Ameren Illinois Utilities service territory, the utilities are advising customers to ready themselves for the possibility of power outages due to ice in the southern third of the state.

"Safety is our priority every day of the year, but it takes on added significance when severe weather strikes," said Ron Pate, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president for Regional Operations.

"The first safety rule is to stay away from downed power lines and always call us or '911' if you see downed lines," Pate said. "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."

Bill Prebil, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president of Regional Operations, explained: "When severe storms cause power outages, our first priority is to correct potentially life-threatening situations, such as downed power lines or hospitals without power. We then implement power restoration plans focused on restoring power for the greatest number of customers in the shortest length of time."

When there is a threat of severe weather, Pate said the key steps take by the Ameren Illinois Utilities include:

     --   Constantly monitor weather conditions, watching for any changes that
          may impact service.
     --   Place Ameren Illinois Utilities personnel on alert.
     --   Consider staging field personnel in preparation for storm
          restoration work. Decisions on staging are based on evolving weather
     --   In anticipation of severe winter weather, the Ameren Illinois
          Utilities may dispatch special Ameren Illinois Storm Trailers. These
          trailers are filled with materials field crews need to perform their
          service restoration work. The trailers can be moved to various
          staging sites to provide materials when outside crews come in to
          help with the restoration efforts and to provide a store of
          materials close to the area with the most damage.
     --   In severe weather situations, the Ameren Illinois Utilities
          Emergency Operations Center will be activated. The center is
          strategically located in Decatur.

Customer Safety Tips

The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.

     --   Because most major outages are caused by severe weather, begin by
          developing shelter plans for severe storm 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
     --   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:
          --   Emergency telephone numbers; flashlights and fresh batteries
               (avoid using candles, lanterns or oil lamps due to the fire
               risk); extra garage and house keys; 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.
     --   When severe weather is predicted, make certain your cell phone is
          fully charged. Also, remember that cordless land line telephones
          will not function in the event of a power outage.
     --   If your power goes out, contact 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 Illinois Utility at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days
          a week -- and always call as soon as possible to report a downed
          line or natural gas odor! The Ameren Illinois Utility numbers are
          888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 800-755-
          7000 (AmerenIP).

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.

Editor's Note: For the latest information, please visit our new Web site: http://www.illinoisoutage.com

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

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