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Snake in a transformer knocks out power in Oklahoma City

A snake knocked out power for 14,000 people Wednesday night in north Oklahoma City. Animals cost utility companies millions of dollars in equipment and outages.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: May 4, 2012

About 14,000 families woke up Thursday morning with their alarm clocks flashing, all because of a snake.

The restless reptile crept into an Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. substation about 2 a.m. The poor snake slithered onto a switch and blew out the electricity for more than an hour.

Wildlife can be costly to utility companies, which spend big money every year on squirrel guards and other equipment designed to keep squirrels, snakes, birds and rodents out of the sensitive and dangerous equipment.

That doesn't include the cleanup costs.

“These transformers are warm, and they attract those types of animals that are looking for a nice warm place to crawl into,” OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said. “Unfortunately, they often cause outages.

OG&E crews restored power in north Oklahoma City in about an hour.

“That is typical with this kind of outage,” Alford said. “Generally we are able to move power around the problem, and the outages are short-lived. There will be occasions where they are more long-term, especially when the outage is in more remote places.”

While the small animals are costly to the utilities, there are rare occasions where such outages can be beneficial.

I owe at least some portion of my undergraduate degree to a similar act of animal sabotage.

During my freshman year at the University of Oklahoma, I had just sat down for an exam I was not prepared for when the lights went out throughout campus.

Just like in north Oklahoma City this week, power was restored in about an hour, but the delay was enough to get my exam postponed.

My exam was rescheduled for two days later. I was prepared the second time around.

I later found out my stay was granted by a heroic squirrel who apparently gave his life so I could pass college algebra.

by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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