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When nature goes all squirrely, blessed are those with generators.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
At the very moment we commit these words to paper, all Appalachian Power Co.’s customers in our region are with power, though that might change in a nanosecond.
Those still replacing food lost in the most recent summer storm that swept through our area, knocking down trees and cutting off power to 88,000 customers, might think it takes derecho-level winds to disrupt our electrified lives.
Yet it takes nothing more powerful than one squirrel to dance across a live wire, bump into a transformer and . . . Nuts! It’s lights out for the squirrel and nearby customers.
Happened early in June when a squirrel fiddled with some electrical equipment at the Roanoke Regional Airport. Keeps happening in Lynchburg, where squirrels and buzzards at least twice knocked out power downtown. All in all, blame is pinned on critters for 3,000 outages last year in Appalachian Power’s Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee region, according to spokesman Todd Burns. “We spend a lot of time and money on this.”
Many of the outages are unremarkable, affecting few customers and are easily remedied. A crew restores the power and seeks to prevent a callback by installing animal guards near where the lines and transformers meet up at the pole so that the next squirrel doesn’t throw a kink into the circuit.
More damaging, though, are squirrels in the substations, a problem plaguing Lynchburg at the moment, and one that formerly kept plunging the Crossroads area of Roanoke into darkness. Since people view substations as a blight on the visual landscape, white pines were planted to screen them from view. Squirrels like white pine. Getting rid of one removes the other.
And so, it seems, once again, trees are the root of the problem.
Weather JournalMidday update: More ice likely later