Energy Users Environment

The 2006 “Wish I could drop them off a cliff” award winner

Whatever the feeling nationally, locally there’s one clear winner of the “Wish I could drop ’em off a cliff” award here in Missouri, and that’s Ameren. I imagine that most of us would probably vote 2, 3, or more times for Ameren in this category, if we could.

Black River News points to a terrific editorial in St. Louis Today by Eric Mink, Stormy Past Catches up with Ameren. He finds that paying the board members a $1000.00 a meeting doesn’t necessarily jibe with the company’s skimping on tree maintenance, leading to record breaking outages the last three years. Not to mention the lack of maintenance which caused the Taum Sauk dam to fail.

Did I happen to mention that Ameren also runs a nuclear power plant?

Leaving aside the cost in lost revenue for business, spoiled food, and having to pay hotel bills, there’s also the cost in lives: of people exposed to the conditions of extreme heat and cold, as well as utility workers dying while working long hours in difficult conditions. Luckily, no one died with the Taum Sauk dam failure.

On top of this, Ameren wants to raise rates. Not so it can change its maintenance schedules, or do a better job. No, the company has to pay for those $1000.00 a board member meetings, not to mention all the ‘job performance bonuses’ paid the top management.

Black River News also had a succinct comment to make on the DNR ‘announcement’ yesterday:

This press release was sent out to coincide with the one year anniversary and not much else. My question is does this mean that DNR “blinked” first, stay tuned.

I’d like to see other Missouri webloggers take up these issues, perhaps pass along their own nomination of Ameren in the “Drop ’em off a cliff” award. Perhaps we should make DNR runnerup.

The CEO responds with an extremely unsatisfactory answer.

His response is that they would have to start cutting down trees in order to do better, and that trimming trees once every four years is enough.

I found a study conducted by the State of Massachusetts, which also has a four year cycle, that does incorporate cutting down trees that are at risk. These are trees that have indications of failure, and this type of effort is usually conducted in association with the local communities because it’s in everyone’s interest to do so.

There’s another study by the IEEE, which I unfortunately can’t access, that mentions in its abstract how reducing the tree trimming cycle one year could prevent 0.9 outages.

In other words, why is Ameren going with a consultant when extensive studies and research have already been made? As for cutting down the trees, I can’t imaging that Ameren and the community don’t already have this authority.

As these things go, the power company is here today, replacing poles that are coming close to falling over, trimming trees.

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