Power crew always prepare for destructive weather

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DECATUR, IL – Rough weather in the forecast can mean many long hours for electric company repair crews.

“We have folks that constantly watching the weather,” said George Justice, Vice-President of Electric Operation for Ameren Illinois.

Strong winds, heavy rain, and lightning are common this time of the year. Ameren linemen know they can be called in at any time. When power lines fall, they want to get people reconnected quickly and safely as possible. 

“Doing it as fast as possible may not be the safest thing so we have to slow down regroup come up with a game plan,” said Kendrick Moore, Ameren Lineman.

Marching orders are delivered by the folks who man Ameren Illinois’s Emergency Operation Center in Decatur.

“It’s basically the hub for our preparation and restoration efforts for our customers,” said Craig Gilson, Ameren Illinois Emergency Operation Center.

They make sure crews know where to go. Ensure they have critical equipment and a place to sleep and eat. The company also has 50-foot trailers like this one that holds enough extra equipment to supply 400 linemen. It holds everything from nuts and bolts to wire, there are 200 different items onboard.

“We deploy them throughout our 44,000 square mile territory to where the storm damage is the worse,” said Daetta Jones, Ameren Illinois worker.

And the coronavirus has come into play.  The first storm that required Covid-19 protocols caused a lot of damage in Lincoln, Illinois in April. Crews could not share hotel rooms, and feeding workers was challenging.

“You want social distancing in the workplace, we do so, that changes the way we put a pole back up, it changes the way we string wire, we worked through those challenges,” said Justice.

He said there is no average storm, the repair costs for the company can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to millions. Always remember to consider any downed power line energized don’t let anyone or pets go near it.

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