Squirrel knocks out power to more than 7,000 in SE Portland

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by KGW.com staff

KREM.com

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 26 at 7:21 PM

PORTLAND --A squirrel stole power from more than 7,000 Portland General Electric customers Friday morning after the utility has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to prevent outages triggered by wildlife.

Earlier this week a squirrel on a utility wire caused an outage in Sellwood and a squirrel at a substation caused customers to lose power in Gresham this month.

PGE crews Friday repaired the damage from an earlier visit by one of the critters.

At around 7:30 a.m., customers lost power when the squirrel got inside even though there's a concrete wall, barbed wire and squirrel guards at the facility.

"What typically happens in these situations is the squirrel provides the alternate path for electricity. He reached from one piece of equipment to another and the power went through him instead of going through the equipment,” said Steven Corson, a spokesman with PGE.

He said PGE has spent $300,000 in the past 10 years trying to shore up the sub stations from squirrels and other wildlife.

More: Squirrel knocks out power to 9,000 in Portland

He does believe the safeguards have paid off because the number of problems has dropped.

The majority of power outages come from trees, but wildlife is right behind as major reason PGE customers sometimes lose power.

On Friday, crews had power restored in two hours.

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KGW reporter Cathy Marshall contributed to this report.

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