Savings in the “hundreds of thousands”

New York State’s Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) operates some 165 substations and provides electricity to 362,000 residents and businesses across six counties in upstate New York.

In the early 1980s, RG&E began searching for ways to address a growing problem of outages caused by squirrels and raccoons entering substations and damaging or destroying equipment. Animal damage caused 20% of all substation outages — second only to weather as a cause of damage.

“We tried everything,” said Gary Aman, maintenance engineering technician for RG&E. “Over the years we tried bushing guards, heat shrink tapes and tubing, screening, repellants, greases, lights, insulator coatings, decoys, and even trapping. We just weren’t successful and the animals kept getting in.”

Besides disrupting service to customers, each damaged substation translated into a cost of approximately $10,000 for RG&E in repairs. In the early 90’s, RG&E began researching how they might be able to use TransGard Systems as a solution to their animal problems.

The fences had to be easy to move and reassemble to allow quick access to the equipment, and they needed to be able to be installed without disrupting the output of the substation. Most importantly, they needed to repel the squirrels and raccoons that had consistently evaded other means of abatement. TransGard met all of those requirements — in fact, TransGard’s design team worked closely with RG&E to refine the system’s design.

RG&E began a system-wide installation program in 1999. They installed TransGard fencing at 54 stations from September through December of 1999, using just one RG&E employee and two TransGard technicians. In September of 2010, RG&E installed 31 more fences in less than three weeks with two of its own employees and three TransGard technicians.

RG&E has installed TransGard fences in all of its 165 substations with exposed bushings, insulators, conductors or other components within an animal’s reach from the ground. According to Aman, RG&E had just one animal-related substation issue in the 12 years since TransGard fences were properly installed and have been properly maintained, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over that time period.

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