Choppers on a power trip
HELICOPTERS will buzz powerlines in the Clarence over the next month to check for faults in the network.
Essential Energy will take to the air to patrol more than 1300km of powerlines, starting next week.
Regional north coast manager Brendon Neyland said the helicopter's operators would use high-resolution digital cameras linked to GPS equipment to capture images of poles, powerlines and other equipment, as well as checking potentially damaging overhanging vegetation.
"Using these images and the automatically recorded co-ordinates, we are able to identify faults or potential problem areas and return quickly to carry out repairs or maintenance," Mr Neyland 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 taking to the sky also enabled Essential Energy to pinpoint potential weaknesses, including areas where the network had suffered damage from storms or where vegetation could 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," Mr Neyland said.
He said 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.
Owners of sensitive animals should advise Essential Energy on 13 20 80 if they require a "no-fly zone" so arrangements can be made.