Raccoon Knocks Out Electricity for Thousands in Wisconsin

By Staff
2 Min Read

On Saturday evening, an incident at a southeastern Wisconsin substation caused the grid to go dark for some 16,000 people. According to We Energies, a Wisconsin utility company that provides electricity to more than 1 million customers, the culprit was a raccoon.

According to a spokesperson, a raccoon touched two pieces of equipment simultaneously, which knocked out the power, and likely made for one really unhappy trash panda. 

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The utility restored power relatively quickly; the light were back on for most residents in a matter of hours, but animals cause significant power problems every year. According to We Energies, animals are behind 10% of the utility’s annual power outages. Luckily, they are typically a quick fix. 

In February, a raccoon cut power to thousands in Toronto, trapping people in elevators and disabling traffic lights after it came in contact with equipment at a Utility Hydro One station. 

According to Electricity Canada, via a Reuters report, squirrels are behind most animal-related power outages, followed by raccoons and birds, but they are not alone. 

In a more curious case in New Jersey, a power outage was caused by a flying fish that knocked out service to more than 2,000 people. Local authorities, which named the fried culprit “Gilligan,” say the fish likely fell from the talons of a bird of prey, like an Osprey. 

Every year, some 13 million people in the U.S. lose power due to animal contact. These outages can cost utility companies up to $18 million per year, according to Utility Products. 

According to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, public or animal contact account for 7% of power outages in the U.S. The most common? Weather and/or trees at 62%, followed by equipment failure and the elusive “other.” In brighter news, maintenance only accounts for 1% of America’s outages.

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