UPDATE: Squirrels and separate equipment failure caused Little Rock power outages | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

UPDATE: Squirrels and separate equipment failure caused Little Rock power outages

Posted By on Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 2:54 PM

click to enlarge KATV / CHRIS MAY
  • KATV / Chris May

One of last Last night's power outages was caused by "squirrels nesting in and damaging underground equipment," according to Entergy Arkansas.

UPDATE (Jan. 4, 10:05 a.m.):

One of the two Tuesday night's power outages, in West Little Rock, was caused by "squirrels nesting in and damaging underground equipment," according to Entergy Arkansas. The other, in downtown Little Rock, was caused by a "trip between substations" (the Gaines substation feeds the Garlin substation, which feeds downtown), a spokesperson said Thursday morning.

This trip was caused not by an overload from use during the cold weather, said spokesperson Kerri Jackson Case of Entergy, but a currently unknown equipment failure as the energy transferred from Gaines to Garlin. "We don't know exactly what that was," Case said, but "we know it's not an overload." The trip caused issues with the breaker. Entergy is in the process of repairs.

The cause of the outages — which occurred in both downtown and West Little Rock, noticeably leaving some office buildings a darkened black — was first revealed in the above tweet Wednesday afternoon this afternoon. And then added to after Entergy responded to questions today. Entergy says it'll be fixing the problems "over the next several days."

Case also gave more insight on the squirrel problem in West Little Rock.

At a point where overhead power lines move underground, to a section where they are buried, squirrels burrowed their way in and opened "recloser equipment," Case said. A few weeks ago, there was damage here (also from squirrels) and Entergy made repairs. At first, when the power went out, they thought it was a repair not holding up in the extremely cold weather. But then they discovered the squirrel nest and that the critters had been "getting down into that conduit" again, Case said. The squirrels "just moving around in the ground" had harmed the recloser and, as they were fixing it Tuesday, the system opened further allowing the squirrels to burrow deeper; this time going into the gears of the system. When the repairman fixed the problem they heard a "pop" and found two squirrels dead in the gears. "[That's] generally what happens when a squirrel gets into contact with electrical equipment," Case clarified. Entergy cleared away the nest and the dead squirrels; the company is going to replace the recloser too.

Squirrels and other critters (Case mentioned snakes, birds, raccoons, among others) are a "never-ending battle" for any energy company, she said.

But a reader pointed out yesterday, that the critters are blamed too often.

"Why do they ALWAYS blame the poor innocent squirrels? — and even worse, the squirrels are never given an opportunity to respond or to defend themselves. Just ain't right," Brent from Clarksville wrote the Times.

One of the more prominent victims was the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's website, which remains is now back up after being down from the outage into the afternoon. Instead of today's news — or being asked to pay $2.95 to look up an older article — you'd get the following message.

click to enlarge democrat-gazette.png

It was like that since at least this morning. The D-G was posting the full text of stories on Facebook.

The power outage almost sunk the whole print issue for today too (staffers worked in the dark to get it out).

If Max, your usual blog stalwart, was in town perhaps he'd use this as an opportunity to spin a tale about his life in news in Arkansas. He'd remember working in the dark, right up against a deadline, with sweat dripping from his brow and smoke from cigarettes filling the newsroom as typewriters chatter away. Or something about how he hates squirrels.

But you've got me today. Pardon the disruption in service, loyal readers.

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