Choppers check U.P. electric lines

American Transmission Company says helicopter crews began patrolling the company’s 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, Wisconsin, to patrol the transmission system in portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. The patrols are expected to be completed by the end of April, weather permitting.

Crews will inspect the lines by flying approximately 10 feet above the wires, and they will avoid flying over livestock where possible. Schedules may vary due to weather, but crews are expected to be in the following areas this month:

  • Early April: Southeast Wisconsin; Appleton and Green Bay areas
  • Mid-April: Central Wisconsin, southwest Wisconsin and Dane County
  • Late April: Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

ATC conducts these helicopter patrols two or three times a year to detect potential problems that can be corrected to avoid unplanned power outages. 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. 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.