When you think of a power outage you typically think of cases that are weather related as well as natural disasters – things like lightning strikes, high winds, blizzards, fires and flooding.
While outages can be attributed to both weather and natural disasters, many of the power outages that occur in the United States are not the result of bad weather, but instead the result of small animals, namely squirrels.
Squirrels ranked second in the list of “Top Causes of Power Outages” that The American Public Power Association published. Several years ago, the APPA started keeping track of what it calls the “Squirrel Index”. This measures the power outages squirrels create. Recently the system reported 1.6 squirrel related outages for every 1,000 customers, estimating 240,000 squirrel caused outages across the nation.
If you question the power of squirrels to interfere with infrastructure, keep in mind squirrels brought the NASDAQ stock market down not once, but twice. Once in 1987 and the second time in 1994. A Google search for “squirrel outage” will turn up many incidents across the country and likely you’ll find a few in the areas where you live and work.
Squirrels damage electrical distribution facilities by tunneling their way into transformers to use for shelter. They chew through electrical insulation and simultaneously come into contact with more than one conductor at different electrical potentials, causing outages.
Regardless of whether you lose power to squirrels, weather or other factors, power outages threaten your business, your ability to serve the community and your critical data.
Although it’s not always possible to prevent power outages from happening, there are some preventative measures you can take:
1) Manage trees and vegetation near equipment. Trees and vegetation encountering power equipment is a common natural cause of power outages. If you see an issue, contact your local utility company to alter them. Power companies invests millions of dollars each year to carefully prune trees to help reduce the number of tree-related power interruptions.
2) Make smart planting choices. You can help your utility company by following the proper guidelines when planting trees and other vegetation near power lines or transformer boxes. Many utility companies list their recommendations on their websites.
3) Call 811 before you dig. Planting a garden? Installing a mailbox or fence? When you dial 811, you will automatically be connected to a representative from your state’s 811 center who will ask you simple questions about the location and details of your digging project. You may also make the request online at: https://call811.com/
4) Animal deterrent installation. Deterrents like wheels, cages or guards can be installed by your utility company in areas where outages caused by animals are frequent.
In many cases outages are out of your control. However, you can manage your risk in the event of an unplanned outage:
1) Install a back-up generator. A back-up power generator can help limit the risks and minimize the damage of a power outage you simply can’t control. Cat recently added a new line of GC Essential Diesel Generator Sets. These quality generators don’t have the extra add-on features of most Cat generators, making them affordable for small-medium business use as backup power. Foley Power Solutions also offers temporary and rental generator sets.
2) Plan. Adding a back-up power supply is not enough. Take time to plan with your team. Identify the most critical pieces of hardware and operations that will need an interruptible power supply.
3) Equipment maintenance & testing. Establishing a maintenance plan and implementing routine testing of your equipment is also important and should not be neglected as part of your plan.
Squirrels may cause power supply outages, but you can outsmart them with preventative and risk management.
Take action and protect your business now with a review of your critical power infrastructure. You have a commitment to keep. You’re trusted to run businesses that keep our nation moving. And for a nation that never stops, you need to maintain uptime that won’t either.
Contact Foley Power Solutions today for a free, no-obligation consultation (888) 288-2295.
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