Five animal-caused substation outages

TransGard Systems names “Five Worst Animal-caused Substation Outages of 2011.”

New Freedom, Pa.—Small animals, gigantic headaches. Every year, electrical substation operators in every region of the U.S. face millions in repair costs from outages caused by climbing animals, and 2011 was no exception. TransGard Systems, producer of a patented fencing system that prevents animal incursions, has named its annual list of the Five Worst Animal-Caused Substation Outages to highlight this persistent problem.

This year’s list illustrates the damage several species of climbing animals can cause, the variety of climates affected, and the severe difficulties customers experience because of service disruptions:

1. Marmot mishap: In June, a marmot climbed onto a transformer, causing a power outage that shut down mining operations and caused $500,000 in fire damages at Twentymile Coal Company in Oak Creek, Colo. Because the water pumps at the mine don’t work without power, the response team had to use one of the mine's 10,000-gallon water wagons to fight the blaze.

2. Raccoon wreckage: In mid-August, a curious raccoon climbed into a power station in Rocky Mount, N.C., causing it to short circuit and leaving all 27,000 Rocky Mount Public Utilities customers without power. During the one-hour blackout the town's emergency communications center received 540 calls, 377 of which were 911 calls. Officers responded to medical and security alarms throughout the city.

3. Squirrel scourge: In October, a squirrel-caused outage left more than 15,000 Greenwich, Conn., residents without power. Thanks to one pesky squirrel, workers were stuck in elevators, traffic lights were down, and local schools and police stations were left in the dark.

4. Possum predicament: A possum was to blame for pulling the plug on 11,000 power customers in mid-August in Colusa County, Calif. Officials said the possum managed to enter a high-voltage area in the Cortina Substation and come into contact with insulation and other equipment, causing the outage. Crews came from as far as Sacramento to restore power.

5. Snake setback: In late June, about 7,000 GreyStone Power Corporation customers were left without power for more than an hour after a snake went after a bird’s nest at one of the company’s Dallas, Ga., substations. The hungry reptile caused major damage to some of GreyStone’s insulators, which had to be replaced, and left numerous homes and businesses dark, forcing deputies to direct vehicles in areas where traffic signals went black.

Clearly, climbing animals continue to present a major concern. Many substation operators have responded to the threat by exploring various deterrents, including TransGard. To date, TransGard has installed more than 2,000 systems at substation nationwide. For more information about TransGard Systems, visit

For more information about TransGard Systems or other animal incursion prevention products, click here to go to Utility Products' Buyers Guide.

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