Providing reliable, uninterrupted service is a top priority for Little River Electric Cooperative. Outages do occur, however, and most are associated with severe weather. But what causes a blink or outage on a clear day when there is not a storm cloud in the sky?
More than likely, the culprit is a squirrel. Squirrels are the leading cause of non-weather-related outages for electric utilities nationwide. Little River Electric is no exception.
Contact by squirrels with energized equipment can cause a power blink or an outage that might disrupt anywhere from one to several hundred members’ service—sometimes causing serious damage.
When squirrels make contact with conductors, which are energized at 7,200 volts or more, the contact creates an electrical short that instantly activates the circuit’s protective equipment. A blink in your home—a brief service interruption—is actually a sign that the circuit’s protective equipment is responding correctly and preventing a prolonged outage. Squirrels also will sometimes gnaw aluminum wires or connectors, causing problems including dimming lights.
Faults also can occur from birds, other small animals, tree branches touching a power line, lightning or other similar events. Snakes sometimes cause outages. We’ve even had problems with wasps and lizards.
As a precautionary measure, Little River’s crews sometimes install wildlife guards, designed to protect animals and prevent outages where problems have been identified. Your co-op does all it can to protect its equipment, animals and the public, but no such device can be 100 percent effective.
Regardless of the cause, Little River Electric crews will be on their way to inspect the damage and make necessary repairs after a power outage. Please call 1 (800) 459-2141 toll free or, locally dial 1 (864) 366-2141 to report an outage in your home or community.
Please do not use email or social media as a means of reporting a power outage. Social media is not tied to our outage management system, and email may not be accessible for a variety of reasons, including the power outage itself.
The next time you report a blink or an outage and think you’re hearing a joke for an explanation, don’t laugh. The culprit really could be a squirrel.