Southeast Texas’ sizeable population of squirrels may prove entertaining to watch in the backyard. But there’s nothing amusing about the way they deftly dart along power lines, slip into electric substations and cause power outages to neighborhoods.
Entergy Texas, Inc., however, found a way to take on the squirrels. As part of its ongoing service reliability program, the company this year invested about $25,000 to purchase round plastic “spinners” to install on power lines leading into some 36 at-risk substations throughout its service area. Although a small amount compared to the $2.65 million budgeted overall for service reliability efforts this year, it’s a particularly—and peculiarly—effective spend.
When squirrels scamper along a power line and come to the spinner, it does what the name implies. It spins, promptly and safely throwing the squirrel off the power line, preventing it from entering the substation where it could get into equipment and cause an outage.
“This was a pro-active effort on our part to make an improvement to the infrastructure that would also help us improve the reliability of service to our customers,” explained Vernon Pierce, customer service vice president for Entergy Texas.
“This is one of a number of programs in place that work toward preventing outages. The heavy vegetation we have in Southeast Texas is a perfect habitat for critters and makes animal intrusion a very real problem when it comes to keeping the lights on for our customers. This means we face circumstances that sometimes require us to be creative to ensure safe, reliable power.”