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Ameren Illinois Utilities Have Used $2.25 Million in Poles, Wires, Other Materials to Turn Lights on for Southern Illinois Ameren Illinois Utilities Customers

1,000 Linemen Working into the Night to Turn Lights on

MARION, Ill., May 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) have used materials such as utility poles and wire valued at more than $2.25 million in the work to get the power flowing to customers following the inland hurricane that caused widespread damage in Southern Illinois.

At 5:30 p.m. today, about 1,000 linemen are still at work to turn the lights back on for about 11,700 customers. A large number of these customers will have their power back by late tonight or very early tomorrow, though scattered outages will persist into Thursday. At the peak, 68,800 customers were without power.

Meanwhile, the AIU Emergency Operations Center is maintaining a close watch on developing weather conditions which include tornado watches, wind advisories and hazardous weather outlooks. A round of severe weather could result in new outages in Southern Illinois and other parts of the state. AIU has taken the necessary steps to prepare for the challenges that may be created by severe weather this evening and tomorrow.

Since the storm restoration effort began, the AIU workforce, which peaked at 2,200 field and support personnel, have used 1,350 utility poles, about 135 miles of electric wire, 21,000 insulators, 110 transformers and 340,000 other items to replace or repair damaged equipment and facilities.

In addition, the Ameren Illinois Utilities have mobilized more than 1,200 pieces of equipment, including line trucks, bucket trucks, backhoes, bulldozers and even helicopters and boats. A total of about 60,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel have been used to keep the equipment operating.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities self insure the risks associated with the costs of restoring service following storms. In addition, as investor-owned utilities, AIU is not eligible to receive government assistance funds or low-cost loans associated with disaster recovery.

"We understand the disruption and sense of frustration those who are still without power must feel," said John Barud, AIU manager of Division VI. "We appreciate your patience and we will be working late tonight to turn the lights back on for as many of you as possible. These final outages often are the most difficult to restore because of extensive damage and remote locations. However, we want to assure everyone that we are not resting until everyone has lights.

"Rarely do we see damage of the magnitude that has occurred here in Southern Illinois. I would invite you to view the photographs on our IllinoisOutage.com Web site to gain a better understanding of what has happened here," Barud said.

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.

Though telephone service has been restored in the area, the temporary AIU Customer Outreach Service Center at the Community Food Pantry, 121 W. Illinois Ave., Carterville, will remain open until noon Thursday and the center at the southwest entrance Illinois Centre Mall, Marion, will be open until 8:00 p.m. Thursday.

Customers may call AIU: 1-888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS), 1-800-755-7000 (AmerenIP) and 1-888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO).

In addition, Barud said as many as 1,000 AIU customers may need to make repairs to the facilities they own, such as the meter base, weatherhead or point of attachment. This work should be 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 or customers may call AIU for assistance.

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.

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.IllinoisOutage.com/