Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), has installed new interior fencing at an Allegany County substation to help deter climbing animals and protect against electrical equipment interference that can cause power outages. The fencing was installed at the Thomas Street substation in Cumberland, around the 433-foot perimeter of the equipment, to help keep electricity safely flowing to customers while keeping animals out of harm's way.
Next to weather-related damage, animal intrusions are the most common cause of substation outages. Unlike other types of animal traps and deterrents, the special fencing installed by Potomac Edison prevents a wide range of climbing animals – including squirrels, raccoons, opossums, cats, frogs and others – from accessing the substation equipment and discourages them from trying again. Squirrels and other climbing animals have a highly developed memory that enables them to remember locations for food, warmth and shelter. With one brief contact with a fence panel, animals learn that a substation is not a welcoming location to visit and typically avoid it in the future.
"Equipment interference from an animal intrusion can cost thousands of dollars in damage and require hundreds of labor hours to repair as well as causing extended outages for customers," said James A. Sears, Jr., president of FirstEnergy's Maryland operations. "This special fencing is an economical solution to prevent these types of service disruptions in the future."
The Cumberland substation serves nearly 3,800 customers in Allegany County. Potomac Edison has installed this special fencing at 17 substations across its service territory since 2014 and has seen a sharp decline in substation outages due to animals as a result. The company reviews outage patterns across its footprint to determine the best locations for interior substation fencing.