Animal Substation Power Outages

Animals and substations: It’s getting worse

Climbing Animals and Substations: It’s Getting Worse

Squirrels, snakes, birds, and other animals are a leading cause of power disruptions in the United States. Substation power outages are a huge problem, and it’s not getting any better:

  • Wildlife near power equipment is the most common cause of outages at public power utilities, according to the American Public Power Association.
  • In 2015, squirrels caused 560 substation power outages…in Montana alone.
  • Birds in substations cause expensive outages due to direct contact with sensitive components, “streamers” (conductive trails of bird droppings), and the attraction of predatory animals.
  • On average, 13,000 people affected by an animal-caused outage
  • A single substation outage can cost tens of thousands of dollars in equipment cost, man-hours, and more.
  • Outages cost the U.S. economy an estimated $80-188 billion every year in lost commercial activity, lowered productivity, consumer dissatisfaction, and more.

When a raccoon invading a substation can knock out power to 40,000 residents (which happened in Seattle), it’s time for power producers to take action—and choose a solution uniquely suited to protecting substations. (Sources: Eaton 2015 Blackout Tracker, CyberSquirrel1, APPA)

Problem Species



Responsible for the greatest number of substation outages across the U.S., squirrels enter substations in search of shelter and warmth—and possess the instinct to remember the best nesting sites. Their sheer numbers make them the greatest threat to substation security.



Snake outages are all too common in the south and southwest regions of the U.S. Snakes enter substations in search of warmth and are often undeterred by products and techniques designed to bar entry to other animals.



Birds regularly compete with squirrels as the leading cause of substation outages. Besides the complication of birds coming in contact with sensitive substation components, the acidic nature of bird dropping build-up corrodes expensive equipment, becomes conductive with moisture, and contains harmful bacteria.



Raccoons are excellent climbers and notoriously curious—a threatening combination that has resulted in substation outages across their North American habitat.



Both house cats and feral cats roam widely and, like other species, enter substations in search of warmth—with sometimes catastrophic results.


Other climbing animals

Incursions from numerous other climbing species have resulted in severe substation outages: foxes, rats, weasels, frogs and more.

Why animals invade—and why TransGard is unique

Animals in search of warmth and shelter naturally gravitate to substations. Compounding that, increased development has encroached on animal habitats, leading to greater activity around substations. Finally, warmer winters have lowered animal mortality rates, shortened hibernation seasons and increased mating seasons. 


All this activity creates an obvious and serious threat to substations. It’s also why some “solutions” like cover-ups, guards and netting simply don’t work. Once an animal makes it inside a substation, it will explore—and eventually come into contact with something that will create a problem—or a full-fledged outage. TransGard works because, unlike other deterrents, it completely prevents climbing animals from entering a substation—and delivers a mild electric shock that deters them from ever trying again.

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