Ameren subsidiary Ameren UE has appointed a joint venture contractor, Ozark Constructors, to rebuild the dam and upper reservoir of the Taum Sauk pumped storage plant in Missouri, pending final resolution of matters relating to dam failure in late 2005.

Ozark Constructors is a JV of ASI Constructors, a specialist dams builder, and heavy civils firm Fred Weber.

Paul C Rizzo Associates has been selected as engineer of record and project manager. It also designed the new, RCC dam that is to be built at the upper reservoir site.

The original upper reservoir dam overtopped and failed in December 2005, reportedly draining the body of water with half an hour and flooding Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

Last month the Missouri Public Service Commission blamed the company’s management for a series of poorly executed activities that were detailed in hearings into the dam failure and flood. The Commission said fixing of water level gauges was faulty resulting in too much water being pumped into the upper reservoir. It added that the faulty sensors were known about for two months prior to the incident.

AmerenUE does not see the pumped storage plant being back in action before late 2009. It submitted plans for the works in February to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and received conditional approval in August. FERC wants to approve designs, the schedule and meet all parties involved. It also wants a reforestation plan, more wetlands protection and re-opening of limited recreational facilities in the state park.

In a statement, AmerenUE’s president and chief executive officer, Thomas R Voss, said: ‘After much analysis, we are now confident that this plant can be returned to service and operated safely to restore a critical source of reliable power to our customers.’

Voss added that insurance was expected to cover much of the cost of the dam and reservoir rebuild. The Commission added in its report that ratepayers would carry no cost related to the dam failure and rebuild, and that it wants to check the financial accounting of the project. Further, it required a single supervising authority on the project and implementation of its demands AmerenUE’s policies and procedures, including establishment of a no-blame “whistleblower” programme.