AUSTIN (KXAN) - Squirrels seem harmless jumping from tree to tree, but when they jump onto an electric utility line, they can cause power outages.
"So far this year there have been 268 squirrel related incidents," said Leslie Sopko, Austin Energy spokeswoman. The animals cause more than 300 power outages every year.
The power outages generally happen when the animals get on distribution lines and come in contact with a flowing current, causing power to be disrupted for nearby customers.
In an effort to cut down on the outages, Austin Energy started installing guards that spin on the wires, causing the animal to fall off. And crews are now installing them more often.
"Whenever we go out now to build a new line or make repairs, it is now a standard or a requirement that we install squirrel guards in those locations," Sopko said.
Austin Energy hopes the new safeguards will keep the small animals off the lines so they don't cause big power problems for the utility's customers.
Snakes are also responsible for some outages at substations, Sopko said. Electric fences are used to keep the slithering creatures away from the equipment.
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