One Raccoon Ends Up Taking Out Power in Parts of Seattle

May 17, 2016

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

There are days when I wonder if there's some kind of war going on between small mammals and human beings, and they're all practicing suicide guerrilla warfare tactics by throwing themselves at elements of the power grid. When a raccoon took out power for almost 39,000 people in Seattle recently, it drove a couple of points home. One, raccoons hate us, and two, backup power options are vital.

It all started when Fremont resident Jeffrey Pierce, in the middle of the night—rather very early morning—awoke to the sound of an explosion. That's not the sound anyone wants to wake up to, so Pierce began to investigate and found crews of workers walking around inside the fence of a nearby electrical substation. The crews were there repairing damage caused by just one raccoon, which had reportedly been electrocuted for his crimes against electricity

Thankfully for the surviving humans, the power was brought on comparatively quickly—the outage started at around 2:45 a.m. and was brought back to operational by 5:30 a.m.—meaning that there were probably more than a few “my alarm didn't go off” lateness excuses flying around the area. Animals in the Pacific Northwest region are, at last report, subject to increased risks of electrocution due to wet weather in the area.

In this case, the power outages did little more than inconvenience a large number of people and potentially throw off a day's events. An outage that doesn't last three hours isn't exactly much of a problem, particularly when it takes place at a time in which most employed people are sound asleep, but it's also a great demonstration of how power supply systems like Minuteman's can be useful outside of the office. Imagine an alarm clock with a backup battery system; it doesn't need to be reset when the power goes out and comes back on, and with the right size battery, it can still activate at the right time even if the power's out.

That's not the only way backup power systems can provide value, either; with the power grid sufficiently fragile that it can be taken out for several hours via the activities of small animals, it's worth looking into backup options that can keep the lights, heat, and other such options up and running despite their best efforts. Systems like Minuteman's are just part of the possibilities here, and are certainly something worth looking into. No one wants to wake up late for work because a raccoon led a suicide mission on the power grid, let alone lose an entire workday to such activities. Backup power systems keep the opportunities rolling, despite the worst one lone raccoon can do.

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