Squirrels to blame for SaskPower outages

Squirrels and birds are behind many power outages, according to SaskPower.

Eight outages in Regina in one week, most due to wildlife

Squirrels, birds to blame for many power outages. 1:42

Squirrels and birds are behind many power outages, according to SaskPower.

There were eight power outages in Regina this week.

Ryan Blair, SaskPower's manager of operations and maintenance, said Friday that birds and squirrels are behind many of the outages.

"A squirrel will climb over and around and through anything," Blair said. "And if they get their hands up on the line and if their feet are on a switch or a grounded location, then it shuts the power off."

Birds, such as crows, can cause the same problem.

Many of the most recent outages affected heavily treed neighbourhoods in Regina, such as Lakeview.

The expansive tree limbs are a squirrel's highway and there are many intersections leading to power lines.

The trees themselves can also pose problems.

"If [a limb] is actually resting on the line for any period of time, it will shut the power off," Blair explained. "The system sees it as a fault on the system and it will de-energize the line."

In 2014, the provincial Crown utility spend almost $500,000 on tree trimming.

Blair said the options are limited when it comes to dealing with squirrels.

"I'm not suggesting anyone go out an shoot squirrels," he said. "But if we stopped feeding them maybe they wouldn't be around as much."

SaskPower noted that an upgrade to its system of substations in Regina is set to be completed in mid-July.

SaskPower's Ryan Blair gives media a tour of its facilities in Regina. 1:18


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