May 2007

Electric Interruptions

I am often asked why we have electric interruptions when the sun is shining and there is no wind or rain. The simple answer is animals. Believe it or not animals are the biggest cause of outages in Freeport. While birds do cause some problems, the largest offenders are squirrels. According to an article in USA Today, for the past five years many states have seen a marked increase in the number of power outages caused by squirrels. However, from my own experience animals have always been a major cause of outages on Long Island.

While the outages usually caused by animals are on a smaller scale than those caused by weather, there is still a cost associated with repairing these animal related outages. Unfortunately, the actual cause of the outage is not known when it occurs. Men and equipment must be dispatched to patrol the affected circuit and find the actual cause of the outage. This can take time, but it is a required safety measure for the public, utility workers and the electrical system. Any outage caused by a fault can cause damage to the electrical system.

Squirrels are naturally curious and they are also determined. We often see them using the power lines like highways across busy streets and alongside many roads. This really does not create a problem. The problem occurs when this animal's body makes contact with both the wire and either the ground or a transformed bushing at which time they become the conduit for the electricity to flow through thus completing the circuit.

Freeport, like many other Utilities, has been working to minimize the problem by installing various squirrel guards throughout the system. In fact, all new construction includes currently available squirrel guard protection. We are seeing some positive results in areas where the new squirrel guards are in place but we have a lot more devices to install. In addition, Freeport's Assistant Superintendent of Electric Distribution Michael Robinson has been working with a manufacturer to design and test new squirrel guard equipment - for electrical equipment on which the currently available squirrel guards do not fit.

Freeport Electric Honored With National Award For Reliable Electric Operations

Freeport Electric is one of 48 of the nation's more than 2,000 public power utilities to earn Reliable Public Power Provider™ (RP3) recognition from the American Public Power Association for providing consumers with the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service. John Twitty, General Manager of City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., and chair of the APPA Board of Directors, presented the designees on April 16, during the association's annual Engineering & Operations Technical Conference, held in Atlanta, GA.

"The RP3 designation represents a concerted effort on the utility's behalf to exemplify the highest standards of utility operations," said Paul Allen, Vice President, Engineering at Nashville, Tenn., Electric Service and Chair of APPA's RP3 Review Panel, "The utility and the community should be very proud of this achievement."

"The RP3 recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, training and system improvement. Criteria within each category are based on sound business practices and represent a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity.

This is the second year that the RP3 award has been offered. APPA is the national organization representing more than 2,000 not-for-profits, community- and state-owned electric utilities. It is located in Washington, D.C."

Energy Tip

Lighting accounts for 10% - 15% of your home's electric use. New screw-in fluorescent bulbs can replace your incandescent bulbs and save you money. Fluorescent bulbs cost more but last up to 10 times longer. For optimal use, put the fluorescent bulb in a light that is left on for many hours. This could be a night-light or an outside light. Conserve energy and save money on your electric bill.
Superintendent Hubert M. Bianco