Helicopter powerline inspections have returned to the Geraldton region 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, crisscrossing bush and agricultural land, looking for potential causes of power outages and directing ground crews to exact locations.
Western Power’s Head of Regional North Operations, Derek Sutherland said during summer months when Bushfire is a significant risk in Western Australia, the inspections dramatically improved how quickly we can restore power.
“This region is a big, sparse part of the network and is prone to some really nasty weather during summer. Last year we flew 93 hours checking for damage following outages, so we could restore power as safely and quickly as possible,” said Mr Sutherland.
“Bushfire is a significant risk in Western Australia and when the experts 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 Sutherland 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.
- Last summer helicopter crews flew over 90 hours of inspection missions.
- 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 and can include waiting for ambient temperatures to fall to a certain level.
- The helicopter crews will be based in Geraldton, responding to faults and outages in an area that stretches between Kalbarri, Mullewa, Pindar and Three Springs.
- 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.
- If you see fallen powerlines, stay at least eight metres clear and make the safe call to Western Power's emergency line on 13 13 51
- If you believe it is a life threatening emergency then call 000 first, then make the safe call to Western Power.
- If powerlines fall across your car, stay inside the car until help arrives.