Unitil Corporation, (Unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, is gathering some educational acorns to deliver next week as the utility company launches its first-ever “Squirrel Week” social media campaign.
The week-long squirrely event, which begins on May 9, will shine a spotlight on the hazards that sneaky squirrels can create for themselves and a utility’s infrastructure while offering some important safety tips.
Statistics show that squirrels are the culprits behind an estimated 8.5% of outages experienced in Unitil’s service territories each year.
While those pesky rodents can cause significant disruptions in the electrical energy industry, Unitil has taken steps to protect squirrels and other wildlife and minimize the risk of power outages by installing animal guards on equipment to create a barrier designed to keep critters away.
“The reality is we operate in rural, heavily wooded areas, and outages related to animal contact from squirrels and other small creatures are something we contend with more often that the average person probably thinks,” said Alec O’Meara, media relations manager at Unitil. “We thought highlighting this unique aspect of line maintenance, and the steps we take to both protect our furry friends and keep the lights on, would be interesting and informative for our customers.”
Squirrels tend to be more active during the spring and fall months. As they emerge from their nests following the harsh New England winter, squirrels begin scavenging for food. As a result of their increased activity, spring is typically the peak season for squirrel-related power outages.
As part of the campaign, Unitil plans to donate $500 to each of the following wildlife conservation organizations:
Center for Wildlife, York/Cape Neddick, Maine
Mass Audubon Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary, Fitchburg, Mass.
Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire
For more information on “Squirrel Week,” follow Unitil on Facebook and Twitter @Unitil.
Photo by Rebecca Scott/Unitil