Keeping The Power On
Company spokespersons say "Project Power On" will do just that.
One year after storms left parts of St. Louis in the dark, Ameren UE says it's making improvements. Company spokesman Mike Cleary says with increased severe weather during the past few years, fixing the problems now, and not later, makes sense.
"Trying to prevent weather related problems, undergrounding can make a big difference in areas that are the most prone to weather-related problems," said Cleary. "So we're trying to harden our system, we're trying to make it more resistant to storm damage, and that in turn will mean better reliability for our customers."
Improved reliability has city leaders happy.
"I think it makes a lot of sense, since they're dealing directly with a reliability issue of having trees in the power lines," said Dave Boone, Mexico Economic Development Director. "And this the best way to get them out of the way is to put them underground,"
Ameren says it will spend $300 million in the next three years to put cables underground. It will also spend $135 million in the next three years for tree trimming. The figures are nearly twice the budget of a few years ago. They will put remaining investment toward line inspection and environmental controls.
Back in Mexico, city leaders say the huge initiate will do even more than cutback on power outages.
"Any time you invest money in electric infrastructure to make it more reliable, it's going to make your community a better place to do business and it's going to make it easier for us to attract new businesses, so we're very supportive of Ameren's efforts," said Boone.
Ameren officials say the Power On program is one of the largest the company has ever had. They also say it's not likely utility rates will increase any time soon, especially since there isn't a rate case pending.
Ameren plans to invest more than $7 million in Cole County. In Randolph County, about $2.5 million and in Miller and Audrain counties, about $2 million.
Ameren says the program begins immediately.