UPDATE 7/22/20 — Helicopters will be equipped with Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, and primarily flying in and out of the Ukiah airport, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Flights will mostly be taking place around southern Mendocino County this week, and may be flying below 500 feet near electric lines and equipment.
Here’s an article with more information about how to identify helicopters, plus a photo provided by PG&E below:
MENDOCINO Co., 7/1/20 — PG&E will be flying helicopters low over Mendocino and Lake counties starting today, July 1, to check power-lines in anticipation of fire season.
The company says in a press release that the helicopters will be conducting pre-inspection flights at about 100 feet along electric distribution lines on Monday thru Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The company explains that the inspection will, in addition to gathering information about electric lines and overall safety, help it understand how much time it would take to complete patrols in the event of a public safety power shutoff and help them conduct future patrols more efficiently.
PG&E does not plan to interrupt power during these inspections.
Here is the press release from PG&E with more information:
Starting Wednesday, July 1, PG&E will conduct pre-inspection helicopter flights in Lake and Mendocino counties to improve its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program by making events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for its customers. PG&E does NOT anticipate initiating a PSPS for the next several days.
Through the end of July, PG&E will fly several helicopters along electric distribution lines to practice response during a future PSPS event. The pre-PSPS flights are designed to gather information that helps PG&E understand the amount of time it takes to safely complete the patrol. In addition to improving overall safety, the pre-inspections help crews execute future patrols more efficiently and provide key information to better determine timing for restoring electric service to customers.
Helicopters will fly low, roughly 100 feet, Monday through Friday, but not necessarily every day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Flights will depart the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKinleyville and the Ukiah Municipal Airport.
Flights began in Humboldt County on Monday, June 29. Flights are scheduled in all three counties through July. Schedules are dependent on weather and other factors and are subject to change.
POWER WILL NOT BE INTERRUPTED DURING THE PRE-INSPECTIONS
With the increased wildfire threat our state faces, PG&E is enhancing and expanding our efforts to reduce wildfire risks and keep our customers and communities safe. This includes improving our Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program by making events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for our customers.
The sole purpose of a PSPS is to reduce the risk of major wildfires during severe weather. With more than half of the area where our customers live and work now at high risk for wildfires, PSPS is an important tool for keeping customers and communities safe.
Turning off power can prevent wildfires, but also disrupts lives and can include its own risks, particularly for those who need power for medical equipment. That’s why PG&E’s goal this year is to reduce the number of customers affected by potential PSPS events by nearly one-third compared to a similar weather event last year and restore power within 12 daylight hours after the severe weather has passed.
During an actual PSPS event, crews will inspect de-energized lines utilizing aircraft, vehicles and foot patrols to identify and repair damage before restoring power.
Thank you for your patience. For questions, please call 1-800-PGE-5000.