Substation outages: Animal caused outages create an explosive year


Substations: In 2016, climbing animals caused substation outages that wreaked havoc: loud explosions, hazardous driving — even a threat to voters.

Each year, TransGard — maker of the patented fence that now protects 2,500 substations — tracks animal outages and compiles a list of the worst … and 2016 offered plenty to choose from. In fact, wildlife near power equipment is the most common cause of outages at public power utilities, according to the American Public Power Association.

This year, raccoons, snakes and other climbing animals caused hundreds of outages — although squirrels remain the most likely intruder. Here are five of the worst outages for 2016:

1. Sleepless in Seattle: In May, a section of Seattle awoke to the sound of a substation explosion — one caused by a raccoon incursion that knocked out power to 39,000 customers. KIRO-TV noted that animals cause hundreds of similar outages in the Puget Sound area every year.

2. Danger in Denver: A raccoon infiltrated an urban Colorado substation, blowing a transformer. The outage affected 27,000 customers and shut down traffic lights across a large swath of the Aurora area, creating what KMGH-TV called “dangerous” conditions.

3. “Boom!”: Another animal, another explosion. In small-town Wellington, Kansas, squirrel interference at a substation transformer caused a “really loud boom” that shook several blocks. The outage knocked out power citywide and sent a huge plume of smoke into the sky, according to footage broadcast by KWCH-TV.

4. Rigging the election?: In October, a squirrel knocked out power to a substation serving several buildings in Miami County — including the election board. The disruption affected voter machines and a computer server, forcing early voters to use paper ballots.

5. Snake-out: In Boulder, Colorado, a snake incursion into a substation shut off power to more than 3,000 customers and businesses during the midday hours. Snake outages have become more common, particularly in southern states and habitats with large snake populations.

This list represents a fraction of all animal-caused outages, many unreported, at U.S. substations. Many power providers take steps to prevent animal incursions, but thousands of at-risk substations remain unprotected. For information on TransGard’s patented fencing system and how it eliminates outages caused by climbing animals, visit

About TransGard
TransGard’s patented fencing was developed exclusively to eliminate substation outages caused by climbing animals, including snakes. Since it was founded in 1990, TransGard fences have been installed at more than 2,500 substations in the U.S. and Canada. For more information or to request a quote, visit

For more information about TransGard or other products, click here to go to Utility Products’ Buyers Guide.

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