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Helicopter line inspections battle summer outages

Helicopter powerline inspections have returned to the Metro and South West areas to boost the inspection of the Western Power network during WA’s potentially fierce summer bushfire season.

Specially trained fault crews will fly across thousands of kilometres of network powerlines, criss-crossing bush and agricultural land, looking for potential causes of power outages and directing ground crews to exact locations.

Western Power’s Head of Regional South Operations, Jeffery Spinner said during the summer months when Bushfire is a significant risk in Western Australia, the inspections dramatically improved how quickly we can restore power.

“The network has nearly 100,000 kilometres of powerlines running through it and in some areas the network is prone to some really nasty weather during summer. Last year we flew over 170 hours checking for damage following outages, so we could restore power as safely and quickly as possible,” Mr Spinner said.

“Bushfire is a significant risk in Western Australia and when the experts and data tell us that the weather conditions present a very high to catastrophic risk of bushfire, we need to adopt different practices than we would in winter.”

When high fire danger ratings are declared by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Western Power are restricted in how we re-energise.

“During fire restriction conditions we boost our resources. Helicopter line inspections are invaluable to inspect terrain that would have had to have been inspected by foot during vehicle movement bans. This helps us to ensure the network is safe, so we can get the power back on quicker,” Mr Spinner said.

Western Power appreciates the support of the community and urges property owners with high voltage powerlines near their properties to be conscious of stock that may be in nearby paddocks.  On occasions, helicopters will need to land adjacent to powerlines for further inspections or aircraft refuelling.

 

Fast facts

  • Last summer helicopter crews flew over 260 hours of inspection missions. 90 hours North, 170 hours South West and covered nearly 25,000kms of powerlines looking for faults during bushfire season.
  • Faults were identified in areas inaccessible by vehicles because of Local Government and DFES restrictions.
  • During high fire danger periods, re-energisation is only done in consultation with DFES.
  • The helicopter crews are based at Jandakot and Geraldton airports, responding to faults and outages during summer.
  • Ground crews will be able to make repairs and restore power faster using information from helicopter inspections.
  • The helicopter inspections will run throughout summer until the end of March 2018.

 

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