Aerial transmission line inspections underway

National Grid’s Bell 429 helicopter, mid-takeoff

National Grid’s Bell 429 helicopter, mid-takeoff

We began our semi-annual aerial inspections of more than 2,900 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont. The helicopter flyovers will identify and address any potential problems in the transmission lines before they could impact electric service for our customers. These aerial inspections complement routine ground-level inspections by quickly and efficiently covering our transmission system, even across rugged and isolated terrain. The inspections are expected to take approximately five weeks to complete, weather permitting.

Transmission lines are generally defined as high-voltage lines carrying electricity at or greater than 69,000 volts. They typically deliver power from generating plants to local electric companies which in turn serve their customers. Transmission lines can be damaged during severe winter weather, which means now is an ideal time to have an up-close look and make sure customers have the reliable service they deserve and expect

“We believe this proactive approach to reducing outages and accelerating outage restorations is in the best interest of our customers. Proper and regular inspections of our transmission system are a critical component in providing safe and reliable power to our more than 1.7 million electricity customers across New England,” said Fred Raymond, vice president, Electric Project Management and Complex Construction, National Grid.

The inspections are conducted in the company’s new helicopter by experienced personnel using high-power gyroscopic binoculars to look for in signs of:

  • wear on power line conductors and lightning protection devices
  • damaged or leaning transmission structures
  • loose or broken guy wires
  • broken, chipped or cracked insulator equipment
  • trees leaning toward the lines or into the transmission corridors
  • signs of waste disposal or unauthorized construction on the rights-of-way that could alter the clearance between the ground and the power lines and might lead to human contact with the lines that could result in severe injuries
  • vegetation interference that could lead to power outages.
  • erosion, which may cause the transmission structures to become unstable.
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