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Valley News Dispatch

Springdale-area power problems likely caused by loose wire, dead squirrel

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

West Penn Power crews may have found the cause of intermittent power failures in the Springdale area, a company spokesman said Wednesday afternoon: a loose wire and a dead squirrel.

The loose wire was in a piece of equipment above Springdale High School and likely was causing residents' power to be repeatedly turned off, then on again, West Penn spokesman Todd Meyers said.

Squirrels have been known to wreak havoc on electric wires as they climb on them and even chew them. It was not known if the dead squirrel caused the wire to become loose or if it simply touched a live wire and was killed.

Borough residents complained their power was going off and on as many as a dozen times Wednesday morning.

Meyers said crews were working to fix the piece of equipment, while others continued to check the line for any other possible causes. The repair was expected to be done Wednesday afternoon.

“We're hopeful that's what it is,” Meyers said. “That's what they've been able to find so far.”

An unknown number of customers in the borough and Springdale Township were believed to have been affected.

The wire and squirrel caused a pole-mounted capacitor bank — a device that regulates voltage — to malfunction and send a message to a substation behind the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer to cut off power, Meyers said. The circuit is designed to keep wires from melting during some malfunctions.

Springdale-area residents reported similar problems with their power last week. Meyers said no cause was found for the issue then, and it seemed to have stopped on its own.

Wednesday's issue probably was related to what was happening last week, he said.

Meyers advised customers to use surge protectors with electronics, especially computers. But he said there is no particular threat to home electronics with the current issue.

Customers who suspect their electronics may have been damaged can file a claim with the company at 800-686-0021.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer. Staff writer Chuck Biedka contributed.

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