AmerenUE, a subsidiary of Ameren Corp, has agreed to a $15 Million settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over a breach of the upper reservoir of the Taum Sauk pumped storage hydroelectric project in Reynolds County, Missouri.

AmerenUE has agreed to pay a $10 million civil penalty, to fund $5 million in improvements in the vicinity of the Taum Sauk project, and to adopt a comprehensive safety programme for its hydroelectric facilities.

The $10 million civil penalty is the largest the Commission has ever imposed in a hydroelectric matter and together with the $5 million in improvements are above the costs for remediating the environmental and property damage caused by the breach.

The breach occurred in December 2005 and FERC alleged that the company committed violations of various regulations, including failure to notify the Commission of conditions affecting the safety of the project and failure to use sound and prudent engineering practices. In entering into the settlement, AmerenUE neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations.

Transducers that measured the height of water pumped into the upper reservoir had become loose from their anchors and gave inaccurate readings, indicating reservoir levels were lower than actual levels, which resulted in the dam overflowing.