Ameren Illinois Utilities to Work Through the Night to Turn the Lights Back On for Northern Illinois Customers

Service Restoration Effort Slowed by Weather, Hazardous Conditions

Jan 21, 2010, 19:31 ET from Ameren Illinois Utilities

PEORIA, Ill., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- More than 500 Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) personnel and contractors are waging a challenging battle with the weather and hazardous working conditions to restore electricity service to Northern Illinois customers.

During the day, service outages peaked at more than 25,000 customers after the number had been reduced to about 6,000 last night. At 5:20 p.m., the number of Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) customers without power has been reduced to about 11,000. In total, about 33,000 customers have had service restored since outages began late Wednesday afternoon.

The weather and difficult working conditions have created additional outages as well as outages of longer durations than what was originally projected. At this time, it is estimated all service will be restored by 6:00 p.m. tomorrow. However, outages may last longer if weather and working conditions deteriorate.

"We are appreciative of the patience our customers have shown, but understand they want their service restored as quickly as humanly possible. We will be working throughout the night to achieve this goal," said AIU Vice President of Operations Ron Pate.

AIU has activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to direct the service restoration effort. The EOC has deployed a Storm Trailer to the impacted area. A Storm Trailer is a mobile storeroom, stocked with the material field crews need to get the lights back on. Storm Trailers can be moved to central staging sites to provide essential materials to areas with the greatest damage.

The primary cause of the power outages has been due to a phenomenon known as "galloping conductors." 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 IllinoisOutage.com.

Pate stressed the importance of safety, saying, "Safety is our priority every day of the year, but it takes on added significance when severe weather strikes. 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).

Warming centers have been opened in Mercer County. They are as follows: Aledo VFW, Aledo Fire Department, Joy Fire Department, Preemption Township Hall in Matherville, Eliza Community Center, Keithsburg City Hall, Matherville Village Hall, Seaton Fire Department and the Sherrard Fire Department.

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



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