Squirrels source of recent power outages

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Squirrels were the cause of multiple brief power outages in Waterloo over recent days, it was learned during the city council meeting on Monday night.

Tim Birk, Waterloo’s director of public works, said several squirrel guards are installed throughout the city to help prevent this problem from occurring, but it is hard to detect every potential trouble spot in the entire service area ahead of time.

A situation that prolonged at least one of the brief outages, Birk said, was the failure of a circuit breaker equipped with a mechanism that can automatically close the breaker after it has been opened due to a fault.

“We are addressing the problem,” Birk said.

This resulted in an outage of 15 to 20 minutes when it typically would have only been a momentary blink in service.

Squirrels jumping onto transformers or chewing into power lines are to blame for tens of thousands of blackouts annually across the country.

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