Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

September 1989


Wildlife managers have long been concerned with the damage wildlife can cause, especially to agricultural crops. However, one area which has received little research is the damage caused by wildlife to electric substations. Such research is needed because damage to electric substations increases operating costs of utilities and reduces reliability of service to customers.

Six member utilities of the Empire State Electric Energy Research Corporation (ESEERCO) were surveyed to identify classes of substations experiencing animal-caused faults (i.e., short circuits), and to determine the impacts of those faults. Records of more than 200 animal-caused faults occurring from 1970-88 were examined. The mean cost of each fault was $12,550, and the total cost incurred by New York state utilities from 1970-88 may have been as high as $10 million. Substations experiencing animal-caused faults tended to be older (>30 yrs), taller profile structures of mid-range distribution-voltage classification. Sixteen types of animals caused faults in substations. However, squirrels (55%), birds (16%), and raccoons (12%) accounted for 83% of the faults. Although all electrified substation equipment was susceptible to faults, only 4 types of equipment experienced 74% of the faults. These findings provide information useful for targeting individual substations and specific substation equipment for protection from animals. Wildlife managers and damage control specialists may find this information useful as utilities search for ways to s top "preventable" animal-caused faults.