Empire Testing Wildlife Protection Devices
Empire District Electric will install new equipment in certain parts of Carl Junction over the next month. It’s part of a pilot project meant to reduce power outages while also protecting wildlife.
Donald J ohnson and his friends sit on his porch waiting for the power to come back on inside, watching as crews work their way down his street. It’s a nice day to sit outside and he says there’s a lot of wildlife near his property.
“Squirrels and all kinds of animals out here,” says Johnson.
But Empire Electric officials say those animals are the second highest cause of power outages in the area.
“They’re long enough to reach above the bushing and make contact with the energized part thus shorting out the bushing, frying the squirrel and causing an outage to our customers,” says Sam McGarrah with the company.
Today’s outage was intentional, lasting not even 20 minutes as crews add an extra safeguard to pole transformers.
“We’re going to put an insulating cone that’s going to fit over the bushing on the top of the transformer as well as a coated wire from the transformer up to our power line. All of that is in an effort to reduce the ability for the squirrel to make contact with an energized portion,” says McGarrah.
1500 Carl Junction residents will be a part of this pilot project. Empire officials will soon compare the cost of the labor to the benefit to the customers. They hope it will increase the reliability of their service.
“Whenever there’s an outage it’s an inconvenience to the customer it also causes us to have to send somebody out to restore their power,” says McGarrah.
Johnson appreciates the measures Empire is taking to reduce unexpected outages but the animals are his main concern.
“I think all wildlife deserves to live and I think that’s a great thing that they’re doing,” says Johnson.
The work area stretches west from Highway 171 to the state line and from Center Creek to Fir Road. They’ll be finished with the installations by the end of the year.