PG&E to patrol power lines with helicopter

PG & E pacific gas and electricFollowing reports that at least 12 of the wildfires that devastated areas of the California wine country last year were caused by Pacific Gas & Electric power lines, the company has decided to initiate helicopter patrols. The aircraft will inspect lines in El Dorado County in the areas of Camino, Cedar Grove, Pollock Pines, Sly Park, Newtown, Old Fort Jim, Sierra Springs, Pleasant Valley, Sweeneys Crossing and Happy Valley through October 28.

The National Weather Service predicts breezy conditions and elevated wildfire danger in some areas of Northern California Sunday and also Tuesday through Thursday of next week.

In the past PG&E has contracted for at least one Blackhawk helicopter that they use for heavy lift operations.

Blackhawk helicopter PG&E
Blackhawk helicopter under contract to PG&E.

In July of 2017 a helicopter under contract to PG&E crashed near Donner Summit in California.  The CHP said the six people on board had only minor injuries and none were transported to a hospital.

PG&E helicopter crash
Crash of helicopter under contract to PG&E July 11, 2017. near Donner Summit. CHP photo.


7 thoughts on “PG&E to patrol power lines with helicopter”

  1. I’m trying to think this through as to how these patrols can help. First, transmission lines clearly are susceptible to extreme wind. I would expect that they are at least engineered up to climatological extremes, that is, the strongest wind expected within reasonable range. I think that the October 8th 2017 event was enhanced by a mountain wave, where the extreme wind speed, wind shifts, shear, and turbulence were well past engineering parameters. So, it would make sense to generate the patrols for wind events, BUT that would be the most hazardous time to fly at low levels, especially in mountain wave conditions with helos. Flights should be delayed for safety, yet you want the ignition detection ASAP. I wonder if there is a better method, like sensors along the lines, or that the grid itself signals a disruption. I have questions, not answers, but wire-ignition detection is critical. This is also a big problem in the plains where grass fires have such rapid runs.

    1. Yes, there is a better method! Trim the trees like they have told to do so by the CPUC and sue the people who protest. The work is to protect the community and not just those who may lose a few trees. They had to start some where and feel lucky that it is El Dorado County.

  2. dont get why its El Dorado county only?..during that big event,Nevada county was hit with two large fires,both were out done (lack of a better word) by the fires over in wine country,there may well have been some smaller fires across the river,place had a few but nothing big,but i heard nothing from over there…why did they pick A&E to do this?

    and about the PG&E helicopter crash.i was at my desk in my rv and saw the pg&e helicopter coming in to land at the sacramento street yard,i watched it make the approach when i heard on my local unicom for auburn airport (they didnt normally say anything when landing there as its not close,but he called out a mayday and said he was going down and asked if anyone heard him to call calfire,i called the amador el dorado dispatch and told them he was going down near china bar on there i was on the phone with them,calfire NEU called and confirmed my report,,then i hurried over the the auburn dam overlook and could see the helo on its side on a river bar.tail boom broken off..was sorta exciting

  3. These patrols will not necessarily be during wind conditions. I would posit that they will probably be to check for tree problems BEFORE the winds arrive. The article is unclear, perhaps PGE was intentionally unclear.

  4. and is this really new?.the Auburn pad at the Sacramento street yard had a Bell 206 stationed there all the time,it flew daily as well. mostly powerline patrol in the Sierra Nevada,mainly on the Drum division,but i know it flew other divisions . there was a light plane with patrol paint across the wing that flew the pipeline that flows along the railroad,,some oil and fuel also flew the large powerlines and the ditches.i used to day dream about being a pilot and flying that plane….or ofcourse a tanker pilot…lol..the colorblind of the world couldnt fly when i was young…

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