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Southern Illinois to be Reenergized Tonight as Ameren Illinois Utilities Complete Massive Restoration Project

Customers without Lights Asked to Call

MARION, Ill., May 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Despite another round of severe weather that moved across Southern Illinois early this morning, the Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) will have the lights back on by late tonight for nearly all the 68,800 homes and businesses that lost power when the inland hurricane raced across the region.

"Tomorrow, we will be handling any remaining isolated outages as well as turning service back on for our customers who have completed repairs to their facilities," said John Barud, AIU manager of Division VI.

Any customer who is still without lights should call 1-888-789-2477, especially customers who notice other homes in their neighborhood have lights.

At 5:15 p.m. today, about 1,500 customers in Jackson County were without power. Another 740 customers in Alexander County were without lights as a result of an outage that occurred earlier today.

A workforce that peaked at 2,200 field and support staff, including more than 1,000 linemen, using more than 1,200 pieces of equipment have been working day and night to restore electric service.

"All of us who have been working the long hours necessary to get the lights back on have been gratified by the outpouring of support expressed by the people of Southern Illinois," Barud said. "On behalf of all my coworkers and our outside allies, I want to thank all of you.

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

Barud said as many 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. Once repairs are made, customers should call AmerenCIPS at 1-888-789-2477 to have their service turned on.

Meanwhile, the AIU Emergency Operations Center is maintaining a close watch on developing weather conditions which include a chance of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow and Saturday. AIU has taken the necessary steps to prepare for any possible weather-related problems.

Since the storm restoration effort began, AIU preliminary numbers show that about $6.5 million has been on meals, materials and supplies. A total of 35,000 meals were prepared for workers at the AIU base camps in Carbondale and Marion. In excess of 365,000 items were used to complete repairs, including utility poles, transformers and insulators. Linemen have used more than 135 miles of electrical wire. Total service restoration costs will not be calculated for several weeks.

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.

During the service restoration process, AIU operated temporary AIU Customer Outreach Service Centers for those who did not have access to telephone service or wanted to meet with an AIU representative. The Centers were located in Carbondale, Marion, Murphysboro, Carterville and Herrin.

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/