Over 120,000 AmerenUE customers already have lost power due to the overnight ice storm. With the storm expected to continue and worsen tonight and tomorrow, that number could exceed the number of outages during the last ice storm in November and the severe storm in July.
After the past two massive storm outages, Ameren has arrogantly gone forward to pursue its rate increase. Then, this week, they received an award for preparedness from the Edison Electric Institute, an association of publicly traded companies (surprise, huh?). Meanwhile, it seems that their lines are no more stable than before the summer storms that alerted this region that our electric utility had put profit ahead of preparedness.
Obviously, we all need to kick our fossil fuel habits. We all need to think about ways to conserve energy. To avert a global tragedy, we need to rethink what we consider necessary.
Still, AmerenUE's terrible performance is about to plunge the region into its biggest blackout in decades -- in the middle of severe cold weather. For millions of human beings, and for a metropolitan area trying to redeem its national reputation, this is unacceptable. For the employees of the company, it's unjust -- should they expect to work grueling marathon shifts several times a year just because their bosses won't spend money on storm-proofing the system?
Then again, when something like basic electric service is a publicly-traded commodity, the only customers who count are stockholders.