ST. LOUIS – Ameren Missouri is partnering with Cool Down St. Louis to help those in need stay cool in this extreme heat, donating $200,000 to the nonprofit, along with 850 air conditioners to support vulnerable customers, and 750 four-packs of energy-efficient LED lightbulbs.
“The ACs are strictly for seniors and physically disabled,” said Gentry Trotter, founder of Cool Down St. Louis. “The utilities are for anyone that qualifies; very-low-to-moderate income. What we’re trying to do is people keep on the air this summer so there are no fatalities like thirty or 40 years ago.”
“This is our 17th year of doing this,” St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said. “I’ve been involved about 15 years. We know this saves lives. Back in the early 1980s, when I was on the street, we had a deadly heatwave. It was nothing to pick up 10 or 15 or 20 people from these buildings who had passed away.”
One by one, brand new 850 Energy Star-rated window air conditioners are loaded by hand and forklift onto trucks waiting to take the units out into the St. Louis region.
“When you have heat like this, it tends to build up and, especially in a house, you may not even feel that you’re getting that warm. But over time, it becomes an issue,” said Mark Birk, president of Ameren Missouri. “So, air conditioners, especially in this heat, really are a life saver.”
Political and business leaders, dignitaries, and meteorologists gathered at Ameren headquarters in downtown St. Louis Tuesday morning.
“Cool Down St. Louis brings together organizations from all over the region to make sure we’re taking care of our most vulnerable,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said. “Today’s donation of air conditioners and money is huge for those most vulnerable our seniors and disabled to help them stay cool this summer. We’re in the middle of triple digits and this is the kind of response we need.”