Quincy News

Ameren showcases its emergency operations, response at open house

Ameren Illinois' Alex Huber operates a lift bucket from around 100 feet during an Ameren Illinois emergency Preparedness and Response Open House on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The event showed how Ameren Illinois prepares for and responds to severe weather and other utility emergencies. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 9, 2019 12:20 am

QUINCY -- A mobile substation was parked at the Ameren Illinois substation at North 22nd and Spruce right before the July 13, 2015, windstorm that knocked out power for the majority of the city of Quincy.

A transformer failure required the setup of the substation right before the windstorm.

It's one of 22 mobile substations Ameren has, with three in the division that includes Quincy.

"If we lose a transformer and a whole station is out, we can have this rolled in, and depending how far we have to drive, we can have this online usually in six to 10 hours -- right around eight hours," said Barry Rebman, substation supervision for Division 2. "If we have maintenance we need to do on a station, we can take this in, put it online, bypass the station and do our work."

Work for a transformer failure can take up to five days to bring in a new transformer.

"These cut our outage times immensely," Rebman said.

It was one of several parts of Ameren's emergency operations and response that were on display for an open house for municipal and emergency management officials Friday at the utility's Quincy operating center.

Ron Pate, senior vice president of operations and technical services, said the open house was designed to show the work that takes place behind the scenes when Ameren prepares for severe weather and other emergencies.

"You don't realize what goes behind it in preparation, the training and the drills that we go through to make sure we can provide that service to the customer, be it electric or gas," Pate said.

Besides displays featuring the use of drones in restoring service and showcasing bucket trucks, a mobile supply warehouse that can serve 200 linemen also was mobilized. The mobile warehouse can be deployed in the field as needed.

Larry Bevington, superintendent of supply chain operations, said the trailer contains 217 separate items geared to build distribution lines and services.

"We can build 400 services out of this trailer, and we can build 100 poles for distribution," Bevington said.

"If a storm's bad, and they start using it, we'll bring another trailer in, and pull this trailer back in and fill it."

Ameren officials also provided a demonstration of what to do in the event of a car crash involving a live wire.

Brian Bretsch, a spokesman from Ameren, said anyone in a crash with a live wire should remain in the vehicle and call 911 immediately and not exit until they are told it is safe.

"What you want to do is not touch anything and keep your feet and body together as small as you can and jump as far away from the vehicle as possible, keeping both feet together," Bretsch said. "Then you want to bunny hop -- keeping your feet together at all times -- about 35, 40 feet away."

After learning that many drivers education courses don't offer instruction on what to do in a crash involving a live wire, a teaching module, including a video and materials, was created for instructors.

The module is at amerenillinois.com/driversed.

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