NEWS: Five Steps to Preventing Substation Outages

Substation operators can avoid expensive headaches with this simple review

(April 20, 2017 — NEW FREEDOM, Pa.)    What’s the number one goal of utilities, electric cooperatives, municipalities and other substation operators? Reliability. But one of the biggest threats to reliability is also one of the least predictable:  the environment.

Changes around a substation’s footprint can create threats:   plants grow, wildlife populations change, and the topography surrounding a site can shift or erode. These natural changes can lead to a greater chance of animal incursions that lead to outages — and even a single outage can cost tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and man-hours.

With spring plant growth past and fall foraging season for animals just ahead, now is the ideal time for substation operators to perform a site review. TransGard, which has installed its patented animal-deterrent fencing at more than 2,500 substations, developed this 30-minute substation review to help substation personnel prevent outages:

  1. FOLIAGE SURVEY Check for any overhanging branches or brush growth around the substation that may provide easy access to a nimble climbing animal. If necessary, schedule trimming or removal.
  2. EVALUATE ANIMAL ACTIVITY Animals often seek the warmth and shelter provided by substations. Are there signs of squirrels, snakes, raccoons or other climbing animals on or near equipment? If so, plan for preventive measures.
  3. DETERMINE POSSIBLE ENTRY POINTS    Do nearby wooden poles or unprotected overhead lines provide squirrels and raccoons easy entry? Consider adding pole wraps and line guards to prevent animal incursion.
  4. INSPECT PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT If you have any animal-deterrent gear — a TransGard fence, line spinners, pole guards or other equipment — inspect it to ensure proper operation.
  5. SYSTEM-WIDE REVIEW Were any substation outages caused by animals in the past year?  If so, consider adding field-tested protection to problem substations.

Bonus tip:  Consider a complimentary Site Audit from TransGard. The Site Audit includes an in-person inspection of a substation, including a topographical and environmental review and recommendations for reducing threats from native species. For details, visit

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