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 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.
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: 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!