Power Outage Caused by Super Rat

March 24, 2016

By Joe Rizzo - Contributing Writer

It almost seems as if nature is not a big fan of technology. Over the past several years we have seen one part of the country flooded by torrential downpours, while another portion suffers through drought conditions. We have seen more severe rain, snow and lightning storms than in the past. One thing that all of these conditions have in common is that they cause power outages.

While we are familiar with heavy winds breaking branches which take down power lines, weather conditions are not the only cause of outages. It appears that nature is also taking advantage of furry creatures that crawl on the ground and our feathered friends in the skies.

In December of last year a nuclear reactor at New York’s Indian Point was automatically shut down due to bird droppings. In Nova Scotia a squirrel was electrocuted after climbing a transformer in a substation. The McCormick Road Dormitories, generally referred to as Old Dorms, are one of two main areas of first-year living dormitories at the University of Virginia. Just a few days ago they suffered a power outage.

It turns out that the cause was a 14 inch long rat. Apparently, this large rat was able to able to burrow into an electrical switch and upon making contact with several parts caused a short which knocked out the power. Since it was reported that “The rat that caused the power outage has since died,” I’m guessing that it wasn’t a quick and painless death. Fortunately, only a few building were affected and most had generator backups.

According to an email statement sent by Sathish Anabathula, associate director of power and light, “A big rat burrowed into a 12.5kV electric switch underneath a concrete pad and made contact with energized parts. Very few buildings across the Grounds were affected.”

Due to the fact that about 30 to 40 power outages occur every year in Old Dorms, they have set up a system of backup generators. With the number of power outages that we are seeing across the country lately, the idea of uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) for backup purposes should be an essential piece of equipment.

Regardless of the cause, once the power does go out, individual and business data and equipment is always put at risk. Connecting your more sensitive equipment and data storage devices to a UPS, such as those provided by Minuteman Power Technologies (News - Alert), could save a lot of headaches and definitely some money. The last thing that a student in a dorm needs is to lose their term paper due to a super rat eating through concrete and causing a power outage.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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