Fox gets into substation, causes power outage in St. George

Posted at 8:12 PM, Nov 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-18 22:12:38-05

GEORGE, Utah – Foxes keep sticking their noses where they don’t belong.

City officials say two recent power outages were caused by foxes, but they have a plan to try and prevent it.

The most recent outage happened on Sunday.

Crews say a fox got into the Green Valley Substation and tripped a circuit breaker climbing on the structures. They believe he was looking for food. Birds often nest near the tall lines.

“That obviously is an open invitation for predators in the area,” said Marc Mortensen St. George City spokesman. “Particularly foxes and other small animals like that to want to hunt there.”

Sunday’s outage lasted about 45 minutes and affected 750 customers. Another outage just six weeks earlier left close to 8,000 in the dark.

“It’s happened occasionally in the past, but for it to happen twice in a six-week period is troubling,” Mortensen said.

While the situation has been the butt of several jokes, city officials say it’s something they take seriously.

Mortensen said crews place traps around the substations and routinely catch small animals trying to climb up. Now they’re taking another defensive approach.

Power directors ordered new specialized devices for the substations.

“It’s not overly high tech,” Mortensen said. “It’s simply a plastic guard that keeps animals from jumping up on top of the circuit breakers and running the risk of being electrocuted.”

Local resident Robert Lefkow said he’s been affected by both recent outages, and is glad the city is taking extra measures to keep the power from going out.

“For [foxes] to get into the station, and take the power out, it’s kind of interesting and I guess we need to prevent it,” Lefkow said.

Those devices should arrive in the next couple of weeks.

Mortensen said crews will immediately install them at the Green Valley substation, and then at other rural stations.