Cause of Virginia power outage is revealed

The cause of the power outage that occurred in Tysons, Virginia, on Friday night has been discovered.

According to local outlets, it was a rat. Literally. 

What happened?

On Friday evening, over 1,500 Dominion Energy customers in Tysons, Virginia, lost power.

Many were expecting the cause to be something such as a tree or a branch falling on some powerlines. But, this was not the case.

Peggy Fox, a spokeswoman for Dominion Energy, explained Friday night on social media what had actually happened.

Rats!” Fox wrote, “Power Outage in Tysons area tonight was caused by a rat that infiltrated a piece of equipment. 1,588 customers lost power. All customers restored in 1 hour and 5 minutes. Thanks to our [power]line-workers who safely & quickly made those repairs. #Safety1st.”

No further specifics were provided. It is not clear how exactly the rat caused the outage. It is also not clear what happened to the rat.

Social media’s response

Many on social media made light of the situation.

A user who goes by the name Rob from Maryland, for example, wrote, “Clearly cats are needed to combat this power outage … ‘Rats!’ Tysons power outage caused by rodents.”

Brian van de Graaf of 7NewsDC, however, may or may not have suggested that Dominion Energy is using the rat as somewhat of a scapegoat, writing, “[rat] take the blame for an electrical outage last night in Tysons!”

Besides the typical cause of a power outage, namely a tree or a branch falling on power lines, it is actually also fairly common for an animal, such as a squirrel or a rat, to cause some damage that could lead to a power outage. A couple of weeks ago, for example, a squirrel was responsible for a power outage in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that left some 9,500 Xcel energy customers without power. A similar situation also took place recently in Virginia Beach, where 10,000 people were left without power because of the actions of a squirrel.

It is unclear whether the power companies can do anything to prevent these situations from happening. Given the frequency with which they occur, the answer appears to be “not really.”

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