NEWS: TransGard Announces “Five Worst” List for 2017




(NEW FREEDOM, Pa) — Loud explosions, dangerous fires, entire cities gone dark … there’s a lot of mayhem on this year’s list of the worst substation outages caused by climbing animals.

Each year, TransGard — maker of the patented fence that now protects more than 3,000 substations — tracks hundreds of animal outages. For 2017, there were plenty of candidates for the Five Worst List.

For yet another year, preventable animal incursions have led to serious outages, costly repairs and damaged reputations for utilities, cooperatives and other substation operators. Here are the Five Worst:

  1. One squirrel = 45,000 without power In July, a solitary squirrel knocked out power to a large swath of San Diego, affecting a whopping 45,000 homes and businesses. Witnesses said a “loud blast” at the substation preceded the devastating outage.
  2. Snakes are “really bad” In July, a red rat snake came into contact with a circuit breaker at Jacksonville, Florida, substation, leaving 22,000 in the dark. The area has suffered several prior  snake outages;   one resident noted that “the snakes are really bad” during the summer.
  3. Earthquake? Nope … raccoon. In December, a raccoon climbed onto a transformer in a Rio Rancho, N.M., substation. The result: an explosion that felt like an earthquake to a next-door neighbor. The blast shot sparks and fire into the night sky, shut down power to nearly 10,000, and irreparably damaged an expensive transformer.
  4. “Not uncommon”: Rodent snarls traffic In Puyallup, Washington, nearly 6,000 customers were left without power after a rodent shorted out substation equipment in February. The outage also shut down traffic lights and the public library. “Animal-related outages are not uncommon,” noted a utility spokeswoman.
  5. Grand Canyon squirrel blows transformer    In March, a squirrel gnawed through the insulation of transformer bushings in an Arizona substation, shutting down power for several hours to the entire city of Williams and other communities near the Grand Canyon. “We have issues with packrats, prairie dogs, birds and squirrels,” a spokesman said. “We get all kinds.”

This list represents a fraction of all animal-caused outages, many unreported, at substations in every region and climate of the U.S. While some substation operators take steps to prevent animal incursions, thousands of at-risk substations remain unprotected.

For information on TransGard’s patented fencing and how it eliminates outages caused by climbing animals, visit

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