The latest news: Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), has installed new interior fencing at a Frederick County substation to help deter climbing animals and protect against electrical equipment interference that can cause power outages.
The fencing was installed around the 650-foot perimeter of Potomac Edison’s substation in Urbana, which serves nearly 5,400 customers in Frederick and Montgomery counties. The fencing will help keep animals out of harm’s way and electricity safely flowing to customers.
Next to weather-related damage, animal intrusions are the most common cause of substation outages. Unlike other types of animal traps and deterrents, the special fencing prevents a wide range of climbing animals – including squirrels, raccoons, opossums, cats, frogs and others – from accessing the substation equipment and discourages them from trying again.
Squirrels and other climbing animals have a highly developed memory that enables them to remember locations for food, warmth and shelter. With one brief contact with a fence panel, animals learn that a substation is not a welcoming location to visit and typically avoid it in the future.
“When an animal comes into contact with substation equipment, it can cause extended outages and be very costly to repair,” said James A. Sears, Jr., president of FirstEnergy’s Maryland operations.
“This special fencing is an effective, humane and economical preventative measure that will help to keep the power flowing for thousands of customers in the Urbana area.”
Potomac Edison has installed the fencing at 19 substations across its Maryland service territory since 2014 and has seen a sharp decline in substation outages due to animals as a result. The company reviews outage patterns across its footprint to determine the best locations for interior substation fencing.