Beaver gnaws tree, triggers Kentucky power outage

Published on March 19, 2018 by Douglas Clark

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Kentucky Power officials said a recent outage that left 1,000 customers without service was caused by a fallen tree gnawed through by a beaver.

The utility provider said the beaver gnawed through a tree that fell on a power line near Pippa Passes in Knott County, noting power was restored to within 34 minutes.

The fallen tree tripped the circuit but did not cause damage, enabling crews to restore service quickly.

“It’s a debate about how to categorize a beaver-caused outage,” Mike Lasslo, Kentucky Power’s reliability manager, said. “Is it animal, a tree cut by a non-Kentucky Power employee, vandalism, or tree out of right away? It is not uncommon to have trees that fall on the lines because of beavers. More often than not, we see trees that show evidence of beavers that are weakened and then the wind will blow them over onto the lines. It tends to go in waves. We seem to have more issues in the spring.”

The utility provider said it has taken proactive measures by placing animal guards atop transformers to protect the equipment and limit the outage of customers while also placing guards behind the primary fencing at some substations to serve as deterrents.

Officials said outages caused by animals happen, but acknowledge it is more common to see outages caused by snakes, birds, and squirrels than beavers.