Blackouts roll through east-central Illinois

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

Approximately 6,900 people in Charleston, Mattoon, Humboldt, and Lerna lost power around 10 a.m. Tuesday according to Ameren Illinois spokesperson Stacey Shangraw.

Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center was among those who also lost power.

Shangraw said in an email all customers except for the health center regained power at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The health center is on a generator and it is likely staff and patients did not notice the outage, Shangraw said.

Shangraw said the hospital regained its power around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Eastern students said some of their apartments lost power this morning around 10 a.m.

Tim Zimmer, director of facilities planning and management, said in an email Eastern has reduced the probability of the campus losing power. Zimmer said Eastern has also upgraded their power and distributed air conditioning equipment, which has helped reduce the probability.

Zimmer said Eastern buys its electricity in bulk through Ameren and said they are very reliable.

If Eastern were to lose power there are back-up plans depending on the event, Zimmer said.

The university has emergency generators that would turn on to provide electricity for computing services, life safety systems and other critical functions, Zimmer said.

Zimmer said if there is an extended outage, Eastern has a plan to rent three large generators mounted on semi-trailers to connect to the electrical substations.

However, the addition of the three generators has brought the possibility of Eastern losing power even more because they are powered by diesel and burn 10,000 gallons of fuel per-day, Zimmer said.

Zimmer said with the generators running as they are, the cooling and ventilation would still operate as it does normally.

Zimmer explained the Renewable Energy Center provides heat to most of the campus facilities through four boilers, any two of which running at the same time can produce the amount of energy needed to power Eastern’s campus.

Zimmer said the energy center also has a small steam powered turbine that can produce enough electricity to power the pumps in the center.

The energy center ran primarily on coal until Dec. 14, 2010.

The new energy center was an $80 million project funded by Honeywell International.

Jason Howell contributed to this article

Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]