Xcel Energy to inspect transmission lines by helicopter

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (RELEASE FROM XCEL ENERGY)-- Beginning April 21 and continuing through April 26 residents in northwestern Wisconsin may notice a helicopter flying over some neighborhoods and rural locations as Xcel Energy inspects its electric transmission lines.

Xcel Energy’s transmission lines in Wisconsin and Michigan extend east from the border of Minnesota to the Eau Claire area and north from La Crosse to Ironwood, Mich.

The helicopter flights enable crews to look for defects or loose fittings. Trouble spots that could cause power outages will be identified and later repaired, reducing the number of equipment-related outages on the transmission system.

“These inspections give us a ‘birds-eye’ view of the transmission system and allow us to fix potential problems before they occur,” said Ralph Melgard, Xcel Energy’s supervisor of Field Operations. “The patrols and the associated maintenance are important to continue to provide reliable electric service to our customers.”

The patrols will take place during daylight hours, and the helicopter will fly within 50 feet of the lines or hover near a transmission structure if something needs a closer look. Typically, the flights are conducted at speeds of 30 to 45 miles per hour.

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