3 February 2020

Helicopters to patrol electricity network in Canberra

| Michael Weaver
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Helicopter patrols

Canberrans will see helicopters patrolling Canberra suburbs to assess how close vegetation is growing to powerlines. Photo: Supplied.

While Canberrans adjust to the regular patrols of helicopters and aircraft travelling to and from the fire ground of the Orroral Valley fire, there will be another helicopter patrolling Canberra suburbs to assess how close vegetation is growing to powerlines.

Energy supplier Evoenergy is patrolling ACT powerlines by air from today as part of its annual bushfire mitigation and safety maintenance program.

Helicopter patrols are used by Evoenergy and many distribution companies around Australia to assess how close vegetation is growing to powerlines in order to keep obstructions away from overhead wires.

The helicopter will fly for three weeks so long as weather and bushfire conditions permit.

Evoenergy Group Manager of Network Services Paul Wheatley said inspecting the overhead electricity network is part of its essential maintenance program.

The helicopter will patrol rural and urban areas within or adjacent to: Belconnen, Booth, Coree, Cotter River, Gungahlin, Hall, Hume, Jerrabomberra, Kowen, Majura, Mount Clear, Paddy’s River, Rendezvous Creek, Stromlo, Tennent, Tuggeranong, Tharwa, Weston Creek, Woden Valley and Molonglo Valley.

On Sunday, the helicopter patrolled part of the network damaged as a result of the Beard fire.

“These patrols ensure we continue to keep our network one of the most reliable in Australia and is a key part of our bushfire mitigation program,” Mr Wheatley said.

“We’re experiencing one of the hottest and driest summers on record, and when you add in windy conditions, trees and branches falling on powerlines is one of the biggest causes of blackouts in the ACT.

“The Canberra community will see a helicopter patrolling to survey our network. In suburban areas, the helicopter will fly 310 metres above the ground and in rural areas, the chopper flies between 110 and 150 metres.

“Where we find trees too close to powerlines, we will send out letters to Canberrans with a reminder to have their trees trimmed, including a list of Evoenergy-accredited tree surgeons they should use.”

Mr Wheatley said it is important to only use accredited tree surgeons, as they’re trained to work with trees close to live wires.

“If residents aren’t using an accredited tree surgeon, they open themselves up to serious fines if damage occurs,” he said.

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