MENDOCINO Co., 5/11/20 — PG&E has been conducting both routine maintenance, and additional inspections on electrical and natural gas infrastructure this spring, and over the next several weeks, the company will be flying drones and helicopters around Mendocino and Humboldt counties to inspect electric transmission lines.
The utility company is preparing to inspect all transmission lines in Tier 3 wildfire risk areas, and one third of the lines in Tier 2 risk ares, according to the company’s announcement, which include significant portions of Mendocino County, including “along the coast from Fort Bragg to Elk, Potter Valley to Willits, Konocti to Middletown, Mendocino to Philo, Hopland and Ukiah” along with lines from Garberville to Laytonville.
The company will be conducting transmission line inspections for the next several weeks, and typically uses contracted Bell Long Ranger helicopters for inspections (see here), and a picture of one of the models of drones being used is included here. If you see helicopters that don’t fit this description or you have questions, you can contact us at [email protected] and we will see what we can find out.
Here’s the press release from PG&E:
EUREKA/UKIAH, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is conducting its enhanced System Inspections Program in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties using drones and helicopters along electric transmission lines. The System Inspections Program accelerates inspection cycles beyond compliance regulations to align with wildfire risk. It’s one of many initiatives PG&E has undertaken to protect grid safety and reliability, with other measures including enhanced vegetation management and system-hardening.
The program occurs on an ongoing basis to find and fix potential risks to the safety and reliability of our system. We are prioritizing work in areas of extreme (Tier 3) and elevated (Tier 2) wildfire risk as defined by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) High Fire-Threat District Map. Equipment along electric transmission lines located in Tier 3 and Tier 2 areas will be evaluated more frequently, while infrastructure in non-high fire-threat areas will be inspected at least every six years.
In 2020, the company plans to inspect more than 15,000 miles of its electric lines. That includes all lines in Tier 3 areas and one-third of all lines in Tier 2 areas. We are also planning to inspect additional line miles in non-high fire-threat areas. The inspections will occur through the end of the year.
PG&E has notified customers along several transmission lines throughout Humboldt County of the drone and helicopter flights via postcards or automated calls; including areas such as: Garberville to Laytonville, Maple Creek to Hoopa, Rio Dell, Blue Lake, Bridgeville to Garberville, Essex to Arcata to Fairhaven, Orick, and Trinidad.
PG&E has also notified customers along several transmission lines throughout Mendocino County of the drone and helicopter flights. Those areas include: along the coast from Fort Bragg to Elk, Potter Valley to Willits, Konocti to Middletown, Mendocino to Philo, Hopland and Ukiah.
Inspectors are looking at all components of our assets, including cross-arms, insulators and footings, along with critical electrical components and equipment. Inspectors document findings through high-resolution images, which are reviewed by dedicated teams experienced in system maintenance, engineering, construction and maintenance planning to evaluate identified conditions.
All the highest-priority conditions found through inspections will be promptly repaired or made safe. Repairs for all other conditions are scheduled for completion as part of our routine work execution plan.
Weather permitting and barring maintenance issues, flights will occur Monday through Saturday from 7a.m. through 6p.m. over the next couple of months.