Ah nuts: Squirrel leads to another outage, says PGE

8000 PGE customers affected before power came back around 10 a.m.

Crew members with Portland General Electric (KOIN 6 News, file)
Crew members with Portland General Electric (KOIN 6 News, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Little squirrels cause big power outages. For the second time in a week, a squirrel caused the same Washington County PGE customers to lose power.

The latest incident affected more than 8,000 customers. Electricity was restored around 10 a.m.

Last Wednesday, just under 10,000 Washington County residents were left in the dark for much of the morning.

PGE officials said Monday a second squirrel had gotten loose in the same substation, poking a bit of fun along the way.

“We work hard to keep squirrels out of our substations,” said Steve Corson with Portland General Electric, “but there are a lot of squirrels out there.”

The power outages set off a cascading series of events that interfere with daily life — not only did traffic lights shut down, but businesses also had to scramble to deal with the outage.

A squirrel (KOIN 6 News, file)
A squirrel (KOIN 6 News, file)

“We were having a hard time even getting a hold of our patients because their information we need to contact them is in the computer,” said Steve Morale with Hillsboro Modern Dentistry.

PGE’s Corson said squirrels are “an issue throughout the utility industry, not just here in Oregon.”

Crews are looking at the wildlife guards and fences at the substation to evaluated if adding more would keep squirrels out.

But PGE officials argue the squirrels hitting the same spot twice is more coincidence than anything.

“There are a lot of things we do to try to reduce the likelihood of things like this happening,” Corson said.

Customers can report an outageget an update or call 503.464.7777 in Portland, 503.399.7717 in Salem or 800.544.1795 in other areas if problems persist.

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