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Ameren Illinois Utilities Work to Restore Power For About 18,300 Northern Illinois Customers
Ice, Strong Winds Hamper Service Restoration Effort

PEORIA, Ill., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- (8:00 a.m.) - Ice-coated power lines and strong winds have combined to leave about 18,300 Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) customers in Northern Illinois without power, while creating difficult working conditions that are slowing the service restoration effort by Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) field personnel.

During the night, AIU was able to reduce the number of customers without service to about 6,000. However, continuing problems with ice and strong winds resulted in new outages.

Early today, AIU activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to direct the service restoration effort. The EOC reports that a phenomenon known as "galloping conductors" has caused much of the electric service outage problem.

Galloping conductors can occur when strong winds blow across ice-coated power lines, causing the lines to move up and down in a violent manner. This movement is known as "galloping," which often results in damage to cross arms on poles, insulators and even the wires. This will result in power outages.

An example of galloping conductors can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AnHxZE2X5g.

"Our crews have been working through the night to get the lights back on for all of our customers. This morning, additional crews are arriving in the impacted areas. While we do expect to make progress, problems will persist until the winds die down or the ice melts," said AIU Vice President of Operations Ron Pate.

"We understand the disruption the loss of electric service has caused our customers and want to assure everyone that we will not rest until all of the lights are back on," Pate said.

"Safety is our priority every day of the year, but it takes on added significance when severe weather strikes," Pate said. "The first safety rule is to stay away from downed power lines and always call us or '911' if you see downed lines. 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."

To report downed power lines or other problems, customers should call the Ameren Illinois Utilities: 1-888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 1-888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 1-800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).

Comprehensive service restoration information is available at IllinoisOutage.com. Customers with mobile devices such as iPhones and BlackBerrys may access information at www.ameren.mobi.

Customer Safety Advice

In order to stay warm and prevent hypothermia, residents are urged to follow these tips:

  • Dress in warm, layered clothing.
  • Check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those with medical conditions to make certain they are safe and warm.
  • Remain indoors as much as possible.
  • Place towels or rags along the bottom of doors to keep the cold out. Do the same for drafty windows.
  • Keep drapes and shades closed at night. During a sunny day, open shades and drapes on the sunny side of the home to take advantage of solar heating.
  • Eat to provide your body with the energy needed help stay warm. Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.
  • Remain active, but avoid strenuous activities that cause perspiration.
  • Consider staying with friends or relatives or going to a warming center if you cannot keep your home reasonably warm. Remember, infants and the elderly are more susceptible to the cold than the rest of us.
  • Customers planning to use a portable generator must first open the main breaker or remove the main fuses before connecting the generator to the electrical systems. Failure to do this could seriously injure utility crews working on outside power lines, and/or it could cause damage to a neighbor's property or the customer's own equipment. Customers should never use a portable generator indoors, including in a home, garage, basement, shed or partially-enclosed area - even with ventilation because of the threat of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities 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 more than 840,000 natural gas customers in about 1,000 communities, while helping customers spend less by using less energy and communities grow through economic development initiatives.

Editor's Note:

For current information on the restoration effort, please visit IllinoisOutage.com

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

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