The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

July 1, 2014

Raccoon blamed for power outage

CENTERVILLE — An overnight power outage that knocked out electricity for nearly 3,000 Centerville residents is being blamed on a raccoon.

Yes, a raccoon.

The Daily Iowegian reported that there were 2,940 locations without power at 1:28 a.m., citing Alliant Energy’s website. While there’s no word just yet on how the raccoon knocked out power, there’s a good chance it learned the trick from squirrels.

Yes, squirrels.

Those cute, bushy-tailed scroungers and lovers of anything nut-flavored apparently do massive amounts of damage to the nation’s power grid every year. Last fall, Jon Mooallem of the New York Times decided to create a Google alert using the words “squirrel” and “power.” Over the course of the summer, he tracked 50 separate power outages caused by squirrels in 24 states, including one that flipped the switch on 10,000 customers in Wichita, Kan.

It looks like raccoons have learned to do it as well. Online reports show a power outage in January hit about 5,000 customers in New Orleans after a raccoon damaged a substation. Two weeks ago, a raccoon was behind a power outage for 3,500 Michigan customers.

And now Centerville.

Storms are one thing. It’s easy to understand why power might go out when there’s a 100-foot-tall oak on the lines. Even a flooded substation is a simple enough explanation.

But furry kamikazes? That’s a bit harder to understand. Perhaps a furbearing manifesto? At least then we’d know what their demands are.

And we’d probably meet them. After all, we want our air conditioning in the Iowa summers.

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