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A Workforce of 2,000 Push to Restore Southern Illinois Service as Ameren Illinois Utilities Reach Out to Customers, Local Officials

Majority of Lights to be on by Early Wednesday

MARION, Ill., May 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In the 93 hours since the service restoration work started, the lights have been turned on for nearly 40,000 Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) customers while the workforce of about 2,000 field and support personnel move to get the electricity flowing for the remaining 29,300 customers

AIU's Emergency Operations Center estimates the majority of the remaining customers will have their service restored by the early tomorrow. However, some outages will persist into Thursday and possibly Friday as crews work to repair the facilities most severely damaged by the inland hurricane.

Meanwhile, AIU is reaching out to those who may need to repair customer-owned facilities, such as the meter base, weatherhead or point of attachment, should have this work performed by a professional electrical contractor. These repairs must be completed before service can be safely restored. A detailed explanation of this work is available at IllinoisOutage.com.

"We are reaching out to the leaders of communities throughout the storm ravaged area. We want to make certain they know what is being done to get the power flowing and we want to make certain they are getting the information they need," said Sean Vanslyke, AIU manager of Community and Public Relations.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities also have established temporary Customer Service Centers. The newest facility is located at the Murphysboro Fire Station, 219 N. 10th St. The other centers are as follows: Southwest entrance Illinois Centre Mall, Marion; Carbondale City Hall, 200 S. Illinois Ave.; Herrin City Hall, 300 N. Park Ave., and Community Food Pantry, 121 W. Illinois Ave., Carterville.

"We understand the disruption and frustration the loss of electrical service has caused our Southern Illinois customers. We have been working for 93 hours to get the lights back on and want to reassure every customer that we will not let up until the job is done," said Ron Pate, AIU vice president of Regional Operations.

AIU is reminding customers that it may be necessary to temporarily turn the power off to some customers during the service restoration process. This is done so crews can safely complete necessary repair work. Power will be restored as soon as the work is safely completed.

"We also remind you to continue to make safety your number one priority. If you are using portable generators, never operate indoors even if the area appears to be well ventilated. Deadly carbon monoxide levels can quickly rise, causing serious injury or even death.

"Also, you must first open the main breaker or remove the main fuses before connecting the generator to your electrical system. Failure to do this could seriously injure utility crews working on outside power lines, a curious child who might touch a downed wire that you reenergized or damage a neighbor's property or your own equipment," Pate said.

The AIU Emergency Operations Center also is carefully monitoring weather conditions throughout AIU's Illinois service territory. Of special concern is the threat of severe thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon and evening. AIU is prepared to meet any challenges severe weather may cause.

Up-to-date information on the electrical service restoration effort as well as safety advice and weather reports is available at IllinoisOutage.com. Also, the Web site features photos and videos of the storm damage and service restoration effort.

To facilitate the restoration effort, the Ameren Illinois Utilities are now using an automated calling system to contact customers in impacted areas. The system allows customers to indicate if their service has been restored or is still out. This information is then put into the AIU outage reporting system so service can be safely restored. In addition, customers can call AIU to report outages or downed wires: 1-888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS), 1-800-755-7000 (AmerenIP) and 1-888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO).

The Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) have been providing safe, reliable energy delivery service for more than a century. The Ameren Illinois Utilities deliver energy to 1.2 million electric and 840,000 natural gas customers in more than 1,200 communities within a 43,700-square-mile service territory.

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

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