Ameren has 1,000 personnel on standby for storm

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Ameren Illinois says it’s ready to deal with the massive snowstorm expected to hit Tuesday.

“We started (preparing) Sunday,” said Neal Johnson, a company spokesman. “We actually started staging and put everybody on yellow alert ... and opened up the emergency operations center.”

On Monday, the company upped its status to orange alert, which means it’s anticipating between 50,000 and 100,000 customers across its service area will lose power at some point.

“We finished up in excess of 1,000 personnel staged throughout the state,” Johnson said. “We brought in contractors ... and we have storm trailers across the state to provide resources for crews.”

It’s not the snow so much that concerns the company, but the ice and wind that can easily bring power lines down.

“We’re as prepared as we could be for what is coming,” Johnson said. “I think we’re in good shape.

Winter storm safety tips from Ameren:

   1. Snow and ice pose potential problems for the components that bring natural gas into your home. This is where you can help. Use a broom to keep natural gas meters and piping clear during the winter. However, never use a shovel, ice chipper, pole or similar tool or even hit your natural gas meter or piping to remove frozen snow or ice as this may damage equipment. You could create a potentially dangerous situation and disrupt service.

   2. Make certain that chimneys, flues and vents for all natural gas appliances – such as furnaces and water heaters – are kept clear of snow and ice. Blockages can cause deadly carbon monoxide to build up inside your home in just a matter of hours.

   3. If you experience a natural gas service outage or you suspect a natural gas leak, call (800) 755-5000. In the event of a suspected natural gas leak, do not use the phone or turn any electrical device or light off or on. Instead, leave the building before reporting the suspected leak.

   4. In the event of a power outage, do not use a natural gas stove burners or the oven to heat your home. Your stove was designed for cooking and baking. It is not a space heater. Running an oven with an open door can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide. In addition, the oven may overheat and cause a fire. If you use your stove, use it ONLY to cook, bake or roast. NOTE: Newer gas stoves typically do not have pilot lights. Rather, they use electronic starters to ignite gas. These will not function during a power outage.

   5. Every home and apartment in Illinois is required to have at least one carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet of every bedroom. Ameren Illinois has long advocated the use of carbon monoxide detectors as a way to prevent serious injury and death.

   6. When restoring power after lengthy outages during cold weather, Ameren Illinois coordinates power service restorations with natural gas service operations. For example, this may mean that customers on one side of the street will have their service restored before those who live on the other side of the street. Power is restored to small groups of customers at a time. We do this because as power is restored furnaces begin to run. When a large number of furnaces go on at the same time, the demand on the natural gas system could cause the pressure to fall below the level required to maintain service. By coordinating service restoration, we avoid interruptions in natural gas service.

   7. Report gas leaks and downed lines to Ameren Illinois at (800) 755-500