Helicopter crews will patrol ATC transmission lines

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Helicopter crews will begin the annual patrolling of American Transmission Co. electric transmission lines this week to look for damage, right-of-way encroachments and vegetation issues.

ATC contracted the services of Chemair Helicopters of Jefferson, Wis. Crews will patrol the transmission system in Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopters. Weather permitting, crews will follow the general timeline below to inspect lines within the ATC service area:

Mid-September, early October – northern and central Wisconsin

Late September, early October – Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Late September, early October – southern and central Wisconsin

November – Madison area

ATC conducts helicopter patrols two or three times a year to detect potential problems that can be corrected to avoid unplanned power outages. Many of ATC’s 9,440 miles of transmission lines are located in relatively remote areas of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and it is difficult and time consuming for crews to reach these areas by vehicle or on foot. Aerial inspections allow crews to reach secluded or difficult-to-reach lines and identify potential problems such as damaged lines or insulators, or tree limbs that could fall, damage equipment and cause power outages.

Crews will inspect the lines by flying approximately 10 feet above the wires, and they will avoid flying over livestock where possible. The schedule may vary due to weather and the need to work around the gun deer hunting season.