Ameren Missouri preparing for downed lines, power outages

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Ameren workers are trying to get a head start on our potential icy blast.

They stocked two tractor trailers with supplies Wednesday that’ll serve as warehouses on wheels should an emergency arise.

“We are loading some storm equipment trailers in preparation for potential storm event that may happen this weekend,” said Kevin Anders, Ameren Missouri Assistant Vice President of Operations and Technical Services. “Things like conductors, pole line hardware, insulators, those kinds of things that crews really use a lot of as we get the lights back on.”

If power lines are iced, roads probably will be too. So the trucks will roll out and be stationed in more remote service areas in Jefferson and St. Francois counties by midday Thursday. Ameren Missouri has close to 500 linemen and 500 tree trimmers on standby, with plans to expand that drastically should there be a major ice event for any of its 1.2 million customers in 64 central and eastern Missouri counties.

“We have reached out to neighboring utilities to inquire about their availability with the thought that we would even double that work force if necessary. Our infrastructure is designed to carry the weight of a half-inch of ice and so more often it’s a case that that half-inch of ice will break a weak tree branch,” Anders said. “So the combination of ice and high wind is really the worst combination. If you have weak tree branch that’s weighted down by that ice, it breaks and then you’ve got a 30 mph wind that blows it horizontally it can get into our conductors.”

Tree limbs falling onto the lines may be a bigger threat than just ice on the lines. As of Wednesday, forecasts show the winter storm will feature 10 to 15 mph winds, which could help limit potential damage.