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CMP installing thousands of ‘bird guards’ to cut down on animal-related outages

According to Central Maine Power, 20 percent of outages are animal-related. The plastic guards aim to help reduce those numbers and related costs.
Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Central Maine Power (CMP) crews were in York County Thursday installing a number of "bird guards" to transmission circuits. 

CMP’s President and CEO, Doug Herling, said the plastic guards aim to cut down on animal-related outages and that they were focusing on known hotspots first.

“We install these on every transformer that doesn’t have one – all the way to the end of the circuit,” Herling said. “They’re very inexpensive compared to some of the other projects we do for reliability and if saves one outage, it pays for itself.”

CMP says 20 percent of its annual outages are caused by critters. 

Crews first installed the guards around the state last year. Herling said 12,000 guards were installed in 2020, they are aiming for installing another 18,000 this year. He said in time, CMP will be able to see just how much the guards are saving customers on outage-related costs.

In January, a squirrel caused some chaos at a South Portland substation that knocked out power to thousands of CMP customers. The incident closed schools in South Portland and on Peaks Island.

The outage impacted more than 5,300 customers in South Portland, 200 in Cape Elizabeth, and 1,400 in Portland.

RELATED: Squirrel singlehandedly knocks out power for thousands in South Portland, Peaks Island

Catharine Hartnett, a company spokesperson, told our media partners at the Portland Press Herald that it was a squirrel that caused the disruption inside the substation. 

"The process of finding and repairing the damage can be lengthy because substations are highly energized and dangerous facilities and the recovery work needs to be done methodically," she said.

"Animals account for 15 to 20 percent of CMP power outages each year," Harnett further told the Press Herald. "Most of those cases involve squirrels on the transformers on utility poles. To address that challenge we are adding ‘animal guards’ to these pole-top transformers that prevent the animals from making contact and causing localized outages. We installed over 10,000 in 2020 and intend to nearly double that number in 2021,” Hartnett said.

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