The Impact of Animal-Caused Outages

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The growing reliance on energy and the implications of its interruption in residential homes, commercial and industrial (“C&I”) facilities, and government agencies places an increasing burden on utilities to provide a more reliable power supply than ever experienced in the history of the electric system (see Figure 1).

Impact on Utilities and Their Customers

Figure 1

Impact of Animal Outages

Despite this increasing and strategically important mandate, animal intrusion into utility and industrial substations causes a significant number of outages that are highly preventable. In fact, this well-known issue represents up to 20 percent of all power outages, which are preventable if utilities and industrial customers adopt programs to assess intrusion risk, track and investigate occurrences, and implement effective protection measures.1

In order for utilities to prevent these animal-caused outages, utilities need to develop animal intrusion policies and strategies, processes, metrics and investment programs to reduce and eliminate animal-caused outages in substations and on powerlines. Technology exists today that could drive this outage risk toward zero, including the application of protective guards and cover-up solutions. Shielding or isolating contact points that are otherwise accessible to animals virtually eliminates the ability of an animal or bird to bridge energized sources, causing an electrical contact outage.



[1] Mooallem, J. (2014) “Squirrel Power!” Available at: (Accessed: 20 July 2016).

This post is the third in a series of seven excerpts from an electric utility industry white paper prepared by FTI Consulting, entitled, THE CASE FOR ELIMINATING ANIMAL-CAUSED OUTAGES IN ELECTRIC SUBSTATIONS AND ON POWERLINES. The full white paper may be downloaded by clicking here.

Darren Barnett

Darren Barnett

Senior Product Manager Wildlife Mitigation Business Unit
Darren holds a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Louisiana Tech University and has over 28 years of experience in the electric power distribution industry. Darren’s career started as a Design Engineer for a major transformer and components manufacturer. From there he advanced to positions of increasing responsibility, including Quality Assurance Manager, Engineering Manager and Vice President of Components Operations. Darren is an active member of IEEE and was on the committee that developed the 1656 -2010 testing guide for wildlife mitigation products.