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Ameren invests $9 million in upgrades after tornado devastation nearly three years ago

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ.)

Ameren Missouri has replaced more than 125 utility poles and restored power to thousands of customers after a tornado touched down in Missouri nearly three years ago.

While the road to recovery continues, some are still haunted by memories of that night.

"I'm certainly more sensitive to when there's tornado warnings it just feels a lot more real and a lot more personal than it did ever before", said the owner of Communique Sarah Alsager.

Alsager tells Abc 17 that the tornado destroyed the entire East wall of her building, a project that took her almost a year to complete.

Over the past year, the city has been working to rebuild. Ameren has invested over $9 million in upgrades in Jefferson City and the Eldon area, Ameren executives told reporters Wednesday morning. The company says its"Smart Energy" plan provides more protection for the power system in the Jefferson City area than in 2019, when a tornado hit those towns, badly damaging electricity infrastructure.

"The whole systems just stronger and again smarter with the switches that are there so what that does for our costumers, it's greater reliability a more resilient system and the lights stay on better than they ever have", said Chip Webb director of Ameren in central Missouri.  

Through its Smart Energy plan, the company has installed 90 smart switches throughout Central Missouri since 2019. According to Ameren, smart switches are installed on power poles to better detect and isolate damage, reroute power when possible, reduce outages, and speed power restoration.

Smart switches can also deliver up to 40% improvement in reliability on circuits where they are installed, Ameren says.

The company says right now it is working to modernize two substations in Jefferson City with smart, automated switchgear. This will create a system that swiftly detects and isolates outages and speeds power restoration, Ameren says.

The upgrades are expected to improve reliability for 4,500 customers served by these substations.

Kennedy Miller

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