Partnership will aid Ameren’s outage response

Friday, November 14, 2008 | 3:44 p.m. CST; updated 10:38 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s largest electric utility, AmerenUE, and Saint Louis University said Thursday they’ve teamed up to create a new weather monitoring system to help utility crews respond to outages more quickly.

The move comes two years after severe thunder and ice storms battered much of the region in the summer and winter, leading to power outages that affected hundreds of thousands of customers.

The new system is called Quantum Weather, a network of 100 weather stations mounted on existing utility poles that supplies close to real-time information from sites that are often 7 to 10 miles apart. About half the weather stations are already installed.

The information collected is fed over radio communications systems to computers in Saint Louis University’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. There, it will be analyzed for detailed information about where the weather could lead to power outages. That will help Ameren place workers and equipment closer to projected problem areas or respond more rapidly for weather-related repairs.

"Quantum Weather is going to offer us a whole new way to respond to severe storms," said Richard Mark, AmerenUE’s senior vice president for Missouri energy delivery." Any amount of time you can save by getting people and equipment to an area of storm damage is an improvement for us and to our customers," he said.

The project will cost $400,000 annually, including two new assistantships for Saint Louis University graduate students.

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