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

It's somehow completely shocking, and also, completely not, a single squirrel managed to knock out power to so many, causing schools in the area to close for the day
Credit: Getty Images

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Who knew one little squirrel could cause so much trouble? Well...lots of folks, probably. But still...

On Thursday morning, a squirrel caused some chaos at a South Portland substation that knocked out power to thousands of Central Maine Power 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. CMP was able to make repairs by 11 a.m. 

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.