Preparing for the Worst – Spring Storms in Missouri
Even before a major storm rolls into Ameren Missouri's service territory, preparations have been made to dispatch crews and materials quickly to the areas where customers are expected to be the most affected by power outages.
"Getting power restored safely and quickly is our number one priority after a major storm has disrupted electric service to our customers," said Mike Lewis, superintendent, Reliability Support Services, Ameren Missouri. "We assess the damage and work through our priorities protocol to get customers back on as safely and quickly as possible."
Lewis and Mike Smiley, manager, Crisis Management, Ameren Services, made a presentation to members of the Missouri Legislature's Joint Committee on Disaster Preparedness and Awareness on April 1. The committee, chaired by Sen. Jason Holsman (D-7, Kansas City), has been taking testimony from numerous stakeholders in the state to learn more about Missouri's readiness and recovery plans during times of disaster or crises.
Ameren Missouri's storm process and response always begins with preparation; then, predicting as accurately as possible where a storm is expected next using storm-tracking technology. From there, our crews respond following this priority chain:
Public Safety – wires or poles down, facilities blocking major highways or roads
Major circuits and/or substations (to get the largest number of customers back on first)
Critical infrastructure (hospitals, EMS facilities, public infrastructure)
Distribution feeders (hundreds of customers)
Neighborhood circuits (dozens of customers)
Transformers (from one to a handful of customers)
Single Services (a single customer)
Ameren Missouri responded to 13 major storms from January 2017 – February 2019. Those storms impacted customers in all parts of the company's service territory from Kirksville to the Lake of the Ozarks, from Kansas City to St. Louis, and down to the bootheel of the state. A storm, that blew through the service territory in mid-April, brought strong straight-line winds which left nearly 35,000 Ameren Missouri customers without power.
"We restored service to more than 90 percent of the customers impacted in just 24 hours during this mid-April storm," said Michael Moehn, president, Ameren Missouri. "Through great teamwork and mutual assistance from Ameren Illinois, KCP&L and Westar, along with excellent communication, we worked safely to restore power.”
Ameren Missouri prepares for many kinds of disasters and storms including tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. The company works closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), County Emergency Operations Centers, the Missouri National Guard, and other agencies to train, exercise and prepare for all types of emergencies.
Ameren Missouri also maintains a Crisis Management Plan. While the severity and possible consequences of an emergency cannot be entirely predicted, effective contingency planning can serve to minimize impact on Ameren's customers, co-workers, and facilities.
This plan includes the structure, policies, and procedures to enable Ameren to respond, not just to storms, but to any and all potential natural and man-made crises.