Up to two inches of ice have left about 8,600 Ameren Illinois Utilities customers in Southern Illinois without power, while creating extremely hazardous working conditions that are slowing the service restoration work by Ameren Illinois Utilities field personnel.

Late Monday afternoon, the Ameren Illinois Utilities activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to direct the service restoration effort. A total of 371 field personnel have been assigned to the effort and the Ameren Illinois Utilities have placed a Storm Trailer in Anna. The Storm Trailer serves as a portable utility storeroom, providing a centralized source of materials for crews working to restore service.

Shortly after midnight today, the number of customers without service started to grow significantly as ice-coated limbs began to fall into power lines. The threat of additional outages will continue because of the heavy ice accumulations on trees and power lines coupled with the prospect of subfreezing temperatures until at least Saturday.

Utilities personnel are now assessing the damage to both high voltage subtransmission lines and the electrical distribution system that brings power to homes and businesses. Not until this process is completed will the Ameren Illinois Utilities be in a position to determine estimated restoration times.

"When severe storms cause power outages, our first priority is to correct potentially life-threatening situations, such as downed power lines or hospitals without power. We then implement power restoration plans focused on restoring power for the greatest number of customers in the shortest length of time," said Ron Pate, vice president of Regional Operations.