Regulatory staff won’t seek penalties for Ameren

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Staff members for the Missouri Public Service Commission will not seek penalties against Ameren Missouri for not quickly reporting a problem at its Taum Sauk reservoir, and the utility has agreed to report similar incidences in the future at its power plants.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday reported (http://bit.ly/toabbW) that the parties also will ask the five-member state Public Service Commission to clarify how to handle similar situations in the future. At issue is a June 6 incident at the Taum Sauk plant in southeastern Missouri in which a generator automatically shut off and began smoking. It will cost $11 million to repair.

Regulatory staff saw the damage eight days later and filed a complaint with the state commission against Ameren for failing to report the incident to regulators. Missouri utilities must report within one day accidents or events at power plants that involve serious injury, death or damage in excess of $200,000.

Ameren classified the incident as an outage and believed it did not require immediate notification because it occurred at a hydroelectric plant and not at a coal and nuclear plant. It says an insulated copper winding failed inside the generator.

According to a report earlier this month, from regulatory staff there was an “extensive fire” at the Taum Sauk plant. However, the most recent documents said no fire was “witnessed or extinguished” although local fire crews responded to the plant’s powerhouse.

The Taum Sauk reservoir was rebuilt after it overflowed and collapsed in December 2005. It emptied in 12 minutes, and the water swept away the home of a state park superintendent, critically injuring his three children. The reservoir is near Lesterville, about 110 miles southwest of St. Louis. It started operating in 1963, and the rebuilt upper reservoir was completed in early 2010.

To produce power, water flows down the mountain and turns turbines. At night when electricity demand is low, the water is pumped back to the top of the mountain.

St. Louis-based Ameren has about 1.2 million electric customers, mostly in eastern and central Missouri.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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