Home Local News DUKE ENERGY: Snake caused Richmond County power outage

DUKE ENERGY: Snake caused Richmond County power outage

Officials with Duke Energy say a snake caused a large power outage Friday morning. Photo by Jodie Owen - NCWRC

ROCKINGHAM — More Richmond County residents were without power Friday morning than from Thursday evening’s storms.

The culprit: a snake.

Lights went out for more than 4,000 homes and businesses in Rockingham and Hamlet around 9:21 a.m. June 17. When power was restored about an hour later, a text from Duke Energy stated that the cause was “animal on line.”

As a comparison, fewer than 1,000 Duke customers were affected from a thunderstorm the previous evening that brought strong winds and hail.

A spokesperson for the electric company confirmed that the outage was caused by a snake at a substation. The spokesperson did not know what species of snake.

According to Duke Energy, while most outages are caused by falling trees and storms, thousands each year are caused by animals.

Squirrels seem to be the most common offender, accounting for about half of all animal related-outages.

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“Squirrels often get into trouble because of their natural curiosity and like infants, they are constantly teething with a tendency to gnaw on things — including electric lines,” reads a Duke Illumination article from 2016. “They meet their maker when they come in contact with both the energized wire and either a ground or another energized component. They ‘complete the circuit,’ becoming a conduit for electricity to flow through. The action is not always fatal; sometimes, the animal just gets a scary shock.”

Outages have also been caused by snakes, raccoons, birds — and even a cow, as was one case in Mooresville.

“Many of these creatures are attracted to the humming warmth of electrical equipment, while snakes slither into substations looking for food, often bird’s nests,” the Illumination article reads.

WCNC reported in 2019 that a snake caused an outage in Fayetteville.

The spokesperson said each year Duke works on upgrading its systems to try “to keep the critters out.”

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