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AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Reservoir resumes operations

A section of the outer wall of the new Taum Sauk Reservoir.
Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
A section of the outer wall of the new Taum Sauk Reservoir.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Reservoir is once again generating electricity.

The St. Louis-based utility had the hydroelectric plant in southeastern Missouri rebuilt after its walls collapsed more than 4 years ago.

The new reservoir dam cost $490 million, and was built on the old dam's site on top of Proffit Mountain. The facility also contains a 7,000-foot shaft and tunnel inside the mountain, a lower reservoir and a two-generator power house.

Ameren Corporation CEO Tom Voss says the facility is fail-safe.

"It's something that isn't gonna last 50 years, this is gonna last thousands of years," Voss said. "This is just a terrific facility, it's got multiple lines of defense built into it, and it'll be here a long time."

The original reservoir collapsed in December 2005, sending about 1.3 billion gallons of water rushing down the mountainside and wiping out Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. The park was also rebuilt and fully reopened last weekend.

John Norris is a commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He told a group of about 50 people at a ceremony today that the new dam and reservoir are safe.

"In fact, I told staff I was gonna camp down at the bottom last night, but our plane got in too late, and I hate setting up a tent at nighttime, but (that's) just to let you known how confident I would be to sleep at the bottom of this thing," Norris said while the audience laughed.

The feds and the Missouri Public Service Commission each gave the green light to AmerenUE last month to resume operations.

Company officials say the reservoir walls contain 3.2 million cubic yards of concrete, which slightly less than the 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete used to build Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada.