2 minutes reading time (367 words)

Predicting Power Outages Using a "Squirrel" Method?

Squirrels: those cute, little furry critters! Some say they're adorable, but they can wreak havoc on power grids by damaging and chewing through electrical wires. These creatures, along with many other potential causes of power outages, were the points of focus in a three-year study done at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Researchers designed an algorithm to predict causes of major long-term blackouts and possible catastrophic shutdowns of utility companies. The name of this study? "Squirrel"!

electrical line truss in evening

The Project

This project was designed to simulate potential power outages, so those in the power industry, such as government agencies and utility companies, could assess the risk of a possible cyber-attack or even other threats like earthquakes, hackers, or even squirrels! 

The study worked in reverse of general problem solving by starting with the expected outcome of a given incident and working back to the critical failures that led to the outcome. For example, technology has made our power grids "smarter," so the grids are more susceptible to hackers and other types of scenarios that could generate a major power outage. So, "Squirrel" takes the possible outcome of a blackout and works backwards to identify the root cause of the problem. By doing this, critical failures can be recognized, so the information can be used to plan strategically, both financially and resourcefully, to prevent possible hazards or power disruptions.

The Problems

For starters, it's expensive and time-consuming, and there is little possibility that every theoretical outcome could be detected. Add to that, criminal activity is not exactly predictable, so is it still worth the time and effort to continue researching and experimenting with "Squirrel"?

The Answer?

Although "Squirrel" is still just a simple model now, awareness of threats to our power grids is increasing. Potential risks to our power systems, whether from cyber-attacks or from squirrels chewing through power lines to keep their teeth from growing, progress is being made. But until this project is completed or carried out in larger quantities, you can always depend on Critter Guard to protect substations, homes, utility poles, and power lines from rogue attacks, especially from those pesky squirrels! Contact us today and let us help you get started on a path to consistent power!

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