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Something to Chew On
There are some things that everyone knows are vital for life. Water. Duct tape. WD-40. A good collection of Beatles music.
But back in the days when we had our cat Twinkle, “bitter apple” might have been at the top of the list.
If you’re not familiar with bitter apple – well, you’ve probably never owned a cat. It’s a clear substance with a sharp smell that you smear on power cords for protection. That way, if your kitty gets curious about that amazing-looking string that’s plugging in your TV or your table lamp or your Christmas tree lights, she quickly discovers that it tastes terrible and moves on without chewing it up.
At least, I assume it tastes terrible. I never tried any as an appetizer.
Out in the community, we don’t have the option of spreading bitter apple on our power lines. But we do have plenty of critters that think those lines look interesting or appetizing – especially squirrels. (To an electric utility, “squirrel” is a curse word beyond anything that a late-night comedian ever dreamed of using.)
So we take steps.
We place two-foot long plastic collars on our power poles, midway up, to help keep squirrels from getting a grip.
We use bushing covers and insulated wire on our transformers, to keep wildlife and live current away from each other.
We widen pole crossarms to keep raptor wings from brushing them, and install perch guards to keep the birds from landing there.
We’ve even built better nesting locations for birds (like Longmont's much-loved ospreys) so that our tall poles are less attractive to them.
Wildlife is still pretty ingenious, squirrels especially, so we’re always looking at other things we can do. But our efforts keep a lot of animals safe – and keep your lights on reliably! A typical Longmont customer may go two years without seeing a power outage, and some never have.
Just like with Twinkle, a little preparation makes everyone happier and safer.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a Beatles playlist to get to.
- Updated: 11/08/2019