Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Squirrels Impact Electric System Reliability in Austin

A squirrel or any animal can cause a power outage when one part of the animal is touching a power line and another part is touching another piece of equipment such as the power pole. The power will move through the animal to the pole in what is called a phase-to-ground power surge, and a power outage occurs.

Squirrels cause more than 300 power outages each year in the Austin Energy system in spite of significant efforts to protect equipment with special animal guards. These guards are used by utilities all across the country.

Unfortunately, there is no absolute way to protect all electrical equipment from animal contact. Squirrels are a primary cause of non-storm related power outages in just about every part of the country with significant tree canopy.

Animals such as squirrels, snakes and other climbing or tree-dwelling wildlife can come into contact with electrical equipment and cause a power outage.

Austin Energy crews install guards such as these around pole-top power equipment to guard against animal encroachment

The plastic guards can encase pole-top electrical equipment to prevent contact by wildlife.

A crew member reconnects the equipment after installing the animal guard.

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