August 30, 2022

How wildlife interference can cause power outages

As you look out your windows or walk in your neighbourhood, you often see birds perched on power lines and hydro poles and squirrels jumping from trees to scurry along the lines and back to the branches.

While power lines and other electrical equipment are designed to withstand critter contact, animals can cause damage that may lead to power outages and costly repairs. Here are a few of the most common culprits.


Squirrels are a major cause of power interruptions. For the most part, their interactions with electrical equipment are not harmful. But if they climb on a transformer or touch the power line and grounding circuit, this creates a path for electricity that can lead to a short circuit and power outage. To prevent this from happening, utilities may install animal guards, preventing contact with energized parts.

Electrical substations are equipped with breakers that can detect if an animal has come in contact with power lines or transformers. The breaker will shut down power for a few seconds then reset once the area is clear. If your lights have ever blinked off and come back on, this may be the cause.


While best known for their uncanny abilities to get into even the most secure garbage cans and recycling bins, racoons have also been known to climb poles and make contact with transformers, similar to squirrels. There have also been cases of racoons getting into substations and damaging the equipment, knocking out power.


Large birds have been known to nest on substations which can be dangerous if they contact the energized equipment, which can cause electrocution and a potential power outage.

Image - How wildlife interference can cause power outages Osprey - Nest

With ospreys prevalent in the Elexicon Energy service area, we have built platforms on our power lines for these birds to nest. This initiative keeps them safe from the dangers they’ve encountered when trying to nest within our infrastructure and helps ensure that no damage is done to Elexicon equipment, helping us keep the lights on.

If you see a bird nest on an Elexicon pole or equipment that you think may be in danger or causing damage, contact us at 1-866-579-6819 so our crews can investigate.