The Essential Energy helicopter.
The Essential Energy helicopter. Contributed

Chopper taking to the air to inspect power lines

ESSENTIAL Energy will take to the air to patrol more than 798km of powerlines on the Coffs Coast over the next fortnight.

Starting next week, a helicopter using high-tech equipment will take to the sky, with operators getting a bird‟s eye view of the electricity network.

Regional general manager North Coast, Brian McLean, said the helicopter would be used for low level patrols of high voltage powerlines across the region.

Operators will use high resolution digital cameras linked to GPS equipment to capture images of poles, powerlines and other equipment, as well as potentially damaging overhanging vegetation.

"Using these images and the automatically recorded coordinates, we are able to identify faults or potential problem areas and return quickly to carry out repairs or maintenance," Mr McLean said.

"Aerial inspections are perfect for inspecting overhead powerlines because they are fast and effective and not dependent on ground conditions.

"We don‟t have to gain access to private property and it doesn't matter if the terrain is difficult."

He said that taking to the sky allowed Essential Energy to pinpoint potential weaknesses, including areas where the network had suffered damage from storms or where vegetation may create an issue.

"Once these have been identified, we are then able to send in our crews directly to the site to address the problems," the regional manager said.

He explained the aerial patrols, combined with Essential Energy‟s ongoing inspection program of poles and wires from the ground, would ensure the local network was in the best possible condition to meet customers' energy demands heading into winter.

Click here for more information about the patrols.

  • Owners of sensitive animals should advise Essential Energy on 13 20 80 if they require a „no fly‟ zone, so arrangements can be made before the aerial inspections begin.

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