Curious Critter Zaps Electricity in Stafford

Wildlife Culprit Blackouts 6,600 Customers Monday
Oct 18, 2016

Monday’s power outage in Stafford Township that affected thousands of people was the handiwork of one ambitious trespasser: likely a squirrel.

At 11:30 a.m., 6,617 Atlantic City Electric customers in Stafford Township lost power due to “animal contact” with the Cedar Substation infrastructure at 211 South Main St., according to company spokesman Frank Tedesco. Four different feeder lines were affected.

Witnesses reported the traffic signals at Routes 9 and 72 were out, as were businesses such as Walmart, BJs and Fulton Bank. ShopRite reverted to backup generator power.

Most customers were restored shortly before 12:30 p.m., and the remaining 800 or so were restored closer to 1 p.m., Tedesco said.

Usually seeking warmth, shelter or food, animals cause 11 percent of power outages throughout the country, according to the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association – an expensive problem on a national scale, as animal-related blackouts in the U.S. cost just under $15 billion in 2009, as reported at Utility Products, an online trade publication.

“The effects of animal incursions into substations might range from a simple trip of the electrical system to a power interruption that lasts for hours,” according to substation fencing expert Bill Reichard. “Damage to substation equipment ranges from chewed bushings and insulators, a relatively low-cost repair, to a destroyed transformer, which can costs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair or replace.”  —V.F.

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