Keeping squirrels, birds and other animals away from our equipment remains a longstanding, difficult challenge. AEP Ohio has been putting great effort into saving the lives of our furry and feathered friends, both for their own safety and for preventing the power outages they sometimes cause. Though there are many kinds of animal protection devices, here are the three most common ways we try to reduce these outages at AEP Ohio.

  • Pole wrap

    Pole wraps: These hard plastic sleeves are screwed into a pole and squirrels can’t easily dig their claws into them to climb. This protection is especially important for poles that contain more equipment because that’s what animals are most likely to contact.

  • Transformer bushing covers

    Animal protection covers and insulated wiring: Birds often like to eat bugs from the crevices around our equipment and squirrels like to gnaw on the metal wires to file their teeth down. Either can potentially be a fatal mistake for the animal. To help prevent this, hedgehog-shaped plastic covers are placed on the transformer’s bushings, and the wires that connect the wire to the transformer are covered with insulation and a rubber conductor cover.

  • Line guards

    Line guards: Rollers spin if a squirrel tries to cross the spiderweb guards that bookend the device. Line guards are typically placed on the spans of wire that enter and exit our substations – a dangerous place for squirrels since there is plenty of equipment for them to make fatal contact. These devices help reduce substation outages, which often affect larger numbers of customers.

None of these techniques are foolproof and animals will continue to cause challenges for our grid. That’s why our employees remain hard at work investigating and employing strategies for combatting the issue. With kindness in our hearts and technology at our fingertips the quest will continue to #SaveTheSquirrels!

16 responses to “The Struggle with Squirrels: How We Keep the Power Flowing by Keeping Them Away

  1. Since I left a comment back in July of 2021 about power going out at my address frequently, AEP installed a poll wrap on the poll near my house. Then a few weeks ago I saw another on a house across the street. I believe it may have made a impact. There may need to be more installed in the area too. Since this was done, the outages have decreased alot.

  2. Squirrels gnaw away on the aluminum wires that hold my chain link fence to its upper structure, and I must replace these wire periodically. Why not give squirrels a ground level gnawing place to deter them from climbing to higher areas when they cause serious damage. Just a thought.

    1. Hi Gordon! Good question. I am not aware of any brochures but I will look into this for you. If I learn about anything I will be sure to return with an update.

  3. It is really nice to know how much thought and effort goes into protecting wires both for the customers and the wildlife. Employing kindness in the approach is commendable and something all companies should strive to do.

  4. Hello, Can these items be applied to poles and transformers in residential areas? At least once a year, the squirrel touches something on the pole or transformer blowing the fuse causing a power outage to the two homes connected to the pole. Needless, said the squirrel doesn’t survive. My property borders a city golf course. Lines are above ground but run underground from the pole to the house. With the trees bordering the golf course and the overhead wires (electric, cable, phone) the squirrels enjoy the area. It would be nice if the line guards would keep the squirrel away from the transformer. Thank you,

    1. We’re continuing to explore options about how to keep animals from interfering with our equipment, so I promise you our engineers and other operations personnel are considering all possibilities. Thanks for the feedback, Debbie!

  5. I have solar panels on my Ohio home and my Florida home. No problems in Ohio but we lost power once in Florida. When I saw lineman at the pole for our house I asked what was the problem, he pointed to a dead squirrel laying on the ground. A few years later I had squirrels eating the insulation off my solar Pannel wiring and the insulators at the top of the house mast. The electric company worker said wrap them with Scotch 88 electrical tape because they don’t like it. I also trapped the three bandits and relocated them. I have a new squirrel again but no sign of doing any damage.

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