EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (NEWS RELEASE) -- Beginning today, an Xcel Energy transmission patrol crew will begin flying a helicopter alongside lines in Wisconsin and Minnesota to perform inspections to ensure the electric system remains reliable through the summer cooling months. The inspections also meet federal regulatory compliance requirements to secure a reliable electric system.
The crews will identify potential trouble spots along these lines or structural issues that need to be addressed and repaired. They will also look for encroachment issues, such as buildings on or near right of ways, or trees growing too close to transmission lines.
Inspections will begin in n Minnesota, along the Interstate 94 corridor from St. Cloud to Monticello and along the I-694/I-494 loop in the Twin Cities metro area. Inspections on Xcel Energy transmission lines in Wisconsin will take place from Hudson to Arpin to Alma and to Warrens later in the week. The work is expected to take up to six weeks, depending on weather conditions.
‘We inspect transmission lines either from the ground or air,” said Ralph Melgard, transmission line maintenance coordinator, Xcel Energy. “Helicopter inspections give us an opportunity to take a closer look at the lines and see a fairly close, birds-eye view to identify repairs we may need to make to help ensure the reliability of the grid.”
Helicopters will fly within 50 feet of transmission lines at varying speeds. At times the helicopter will hover near infrastructure to perform more detailed inspections. The exact flight schedule is dependent on weather and flying conditions.
Xcel Energy operates more than 7,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines in the Upper Midwest.