ST. LOUIS – We have seen how weather can cripple a city’s power grid. Ameren Missouri has been hard at work in north St. Louis County to strengthen its equipment to better withstand severe storms ahead of the spring season.
“We know that folks in north county have really been impacted by power outages, weather related power outages,” said St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
The 2011 Good Friday tornado hit St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.
“Yeah, it took them out. It ended up taking a couple of our lines out so that’s a good example right there,” Ryan Arnold, director of operations for Ameren Missouri, said.
In more recent history, north county was hit by another strong storm complex.
“In August of 2020, we had the derecho event that came through Missouri and it was within the St. Louis community,” Arnold said. “I’ll say the county-city area and of north county here. So, we had 78,000 customers out across the Missouri service territory.”
On Thursday, Ameren upgraded a 3.5-mile power line.
“Behind us is a composite pole. It’s a newer technology of a pole that we use versus a wood pole,” Arnold said. “St. Louis International Airport is served multiple different ways, but this is one of the main lines to them and so this is going to be a huge improvement not only to them but surrounding customers as well.”
The stronger pole will benefit 3,600 surrounding customers and can withstand stronger winds.
“For our composite poles they’re rated at 100-plus for miles per hour. So basically, they help kind of buildup not only that structure but the structures around them,” he said.
When storms like the August derecho roll through, power is restored faster.
“Before early morning the next morning, we restored 50,000 of the 78,000 customers through our smart energy plan updates,” Arnold said.
Greater reliability for power is more important than ever.
“It’s a real economic loss. I mean, we’re not just a freezer full of food,” said Dr. Page. “But just to have power in this new world of virtual school. You need your electricity to work. So, this is a really important investment by Ameren to help us keep the lights on in north county when we have some of the severe weather that the Midwest is famous for.”