Local officials and residents joined AmerenUE today in unveiling major residential electric reliability projects in Jefferson City. UE also announced local connectivity to Quantum Weather™, a first-of-its kind weather prediction and response system expanding throughout the UE service territory in partnership with Saint Louis University (SLU).
UE, a utility operating company of Ameren Corporation, is placing overhead power lines underground in the Schellridge subdivision, along Hayselton and Allen Drives and in Brookdale Acres as part of Project Power On, UE’s $1 billion initiative to improve reliability and upgrade its delivery system. These lines have been particularly vulnerable to weather-related outages. The projects benefit 270 residential customers at a cost of more than $2.6 million.
Jefferson City Administrator Steve Rasmussen, Schellridge resident Bob George and UE President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas R. Voss announced the residential improvements today at the Schellridge site.
“Our customers tell us that reliability is their highest priority,” said Voss. “Today’s announcement of major undergrounding projects in Jefferson City and the introduction of Quantum Weather in mid-Missouri demonstrate our commitment to listen, respond and deliver to our customers.
“We can prepare for severe weather, we can predict severe weather and we can respond aggressively when severe weather strikes,” said Voss. “With no ability to control the weather, our only option is to work aggressively to keep the power on for our customers with innovative programs like Power On and Quantum Weather."
“We certainly hear from Jefferson City residents when their power is out, so we’re very pleased to see UE responding so effectively to improve reliability,” said Rasmussen. “We know UE has launched a number of projects like this and that there will be more to come. We think UE’s investment will go a long way toward providing greater reliability for their local customers.”
Quantum Weather, another part of Power On, involves the placement of precise weather monitoring stations throughout the UE service area. These stations transmit near real-time, community-by-community data to meteorologists at SLU’s Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. Using computer models and analytical tools created by SLU researchers, the system produces highly detailed maps of weather activity.
“Hours in advance of severe weather, Quantum Weather provides predictions that are much more precise than are available from other technologies — allowing UE to prepare for disruptions, further improve restoration times and increase efficiencies,” said Voss.
“We expect this system to make a real difference in our efforts to offer restoration times even more quickly and to continue to improve our service. And partnering with SLU helps us support valuable science education programs in our state,” said Voss.
“Our area has been greatly affected by severe weather over the last few years,” said George. “UE’s investments show that they are listening to Jefferson City residents and making a concerted effort to improve reliability.”
Overhead circuits are being put underground along Schellridge, Sterling Price, Old Gibbler and Fox Creek roads in the Schellridge subdivision. This $908,000 project is designed to improve electric service for 54 households and improve reliability during severe weather. UE will also be placing overhead lines underground along Hayselton Drive, Allen Drive, Allen Circle and Beverly Street. That $1.5 million project will benefit 118 Jefferson City families. The Brookdale Acres project affects 98 households at a cost of $242,000.
UE has contacted all Cole County customers directly affected by this work.
“Working with area contractors, these huge undertakings by AmerenUE have been a real boost to economies across Missouri,” Rasmussen said.
“We are working to improve our energy delivery system as a whole, while focusing on areas that are hit hardest during severe weather,” Voss added. “It is our responsibility to ensure our customers’ power is there when they need it, in a way that protects our environment.
“Energy issues are front and center in our nation’s agenda, and UE is fully engaged in meeting Missouri customers’ needs now and in the future,” added Voss.
With 1.2 million customers, UE is Missouri’s largest electric company and third largest provider of natural gas. Ameren, through its operating companies, serves 2.4 million electric and nearly 1 million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.
About Project Power On
Power On is UE’s aggressive effort to significantly upgrade its delivery system and enhance the environmental performance of its power plants. Under Power On, UE is undergrounding those circuits most susceptible to outages and investing more than $200 million on additional tree-trimming and system inspection and maintenance.
To date, UE has completed 208 Power On reliability projects, with 65 more under construction. An additional 155 other projects to improve reliability are in the works. These projects will benefit 315,000 UE customers, fully 27 percent of UE’s customer base.
These projects have led to an increase in jobs. At the end of 2007, less than six months after Power On’s launch, UE contractors had 34 full-time equivalent employees working on Power On projects. That number has grown to more than 300 with increased activity.
About Quantum Weather™
UE and SLU’s Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences have entered into a partnership for development and operation of a more precise weather monitoring, forecasting, and response system. Quantum Weather™ — another part of UE’s Project Power On reliability initiative — can pinpoint severe weather activity on a community-by-community basis. The detailed information from this pioneering system will improve reliability for customers by enabling UE to respond and restore power more quickly following damaging storms and improve efficiencies through better utilization of its restoration crews. Customers will also benefit from more precise outage information and restoration estimates from UE.
Quantum Weather will include a network of up to 100 weather stations deployed in key locations throughout the region that measure temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall rates. These solar-powered stations continuously feed information to SLU’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Current weather tracking systems are unable to distinguish what's happening in individual neighborhoods because monitors are often more than 100 miles apart and provide information only on an hour-by-hour basis.
CONTACT: Mike Cleary, 573.681.7137, or Lori Light, 314.554.2681 (office) or 314.541.2373 (cell), both of AmerenUE