Electric lines being checked by choppers

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. is using helicopter crews to inspect its electric transmission system across four states through mid-November, and the project will include areas of Upper Michigan.

The crews, using Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopters, are looking for equipment damage, right-of-way encroachments and vegetation issues throughout the system, which spans portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. Identifying these issues can prevent future unplanned outages. The helicopters fly directly adjacent to and above the lines at a distance of approximately 25 feet and avoid flying over livestock where possible.

ATC crews have begun helicopter inspections in the northwest portion of the company’s system, starting in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and will continue in a southwesterly direction through the service area during the next few weeks.

ATC inspects its 9,440 miles of transmission lines by helicopter two to three times a year to identify potential problems and reach the more secluded locales in the company’s service area that are difficult to access by land.

ATC is utilizing the services of Chemair Helicopters of Jefferson, Wis., for the inspections. The effort is expected to conclude before the annual opening of gun deer hunting season, as well as before the transition of fall to winter weather.