Animal’s mishap causes power outage

Jennifer Niemela

A raccoon caused some inconvenience for students Thursday morning when it short-circuited a transformer that serves a large area of southeast Minneapolis, triggering a blackout.
At about 4 a.m., almost 800 Northern States Power Company customers in southeast Minneapolis lost their power, including some Dinkytown businesses and University buildings.
Power was restored by 7:30 a.m.
“A raccoon got up in the transformer to fetch out some birds’ eggs,” said Keith Hanrahan, NSP control center operator. “Now we’ve got a dead raccoon.”
Hanrahan said this type of animal-induced outage occurs often, but rarely affects such a wide area.
College of Liberal Arts junior Peter Dornfeld was writing a paper on his computer when the power went down.
“My computer went blank,” Dornfeld said. “Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy. But I guess a raccoon has got to have some fun, too. That’s better than hearing that a couple of screws fell out or something.”
The Bierman Athletic Complex, the University Child Care Center off 15th Avenue Southeast and seven West Bank buildings lost power for about two hours Thursday morning as well.
NSP provides power to the University through several transformer substations. Each set on incoming wires is then redistributed by Facilities Management among University buildings. Not all University buildings were affected because NSP has several power lines that feed the University system.
West Bank computer labs were affected by the outage, but employees said they didn’t have much trouble re-booting the computers and getting them back on-line.
Because of the early hour and the short duration of the outage, most Dinkytown businesses weren’t affected by the outage.