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Squirrels causing Texas power outages

  |   Dec. 25, 2006 at 4:29 PM
AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- A report from the Austin Energy power company in Texas has revealed approximately 20 percent of all its power outages are the result of squirrels.

The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reports the rodents have a habit of coming into contact with sensitive electrical equipment on utility poles and could likely be responsible for nearly 700 area outages a year.

"He's a formidable foe," Austin Energy supervisor Karl Hauer admitted. "Ask anyone who has been stuck in traffic or left in the dark because of a squirrel."

By coming into contact with the poles' distribution equipment, the critters quickly become a conduit for up to 7,200 volts of electricity.

To fight the increasing problem, Austin Energy is spending more than $100,000 annually to install deterrents on equipment to keep the animals at bay.

Yet many in the Texas city maintain such incidents never occur and that energy companies simply use the squirrels as scapegoats when possible, a charge Hauer strongly disputes.

"There is no truth to that," Hauer told the paper. "That might be the lore, but who wants to carry around a dead squirrel?"

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