As part of an ongoing effort to monitor the health of its grid and reduce outages, Holy Cross Energy is partnering with DBS Helicopters of Rifle and HotShot Infrared Inspections of Fort Collins to survey 250 miles of transmission lines from the air.
The survey is scheduled to take place from Monday through Wednesday, using infrared photography to identify potential trouble spots on power lines and at substation facilities.
Especially effective in cold weather, this technique will pinpoint areas handling substantial current, which creates high temperatures in those areas of resistance, literally a “hot spot.” Since hot air rises, surveying from above the lines is the most effective method to detect those hot spots, according to Holy Cross.
This project will cover the entire Holy Cross system.
Monday will start in DeBeque and end in Glenwood.
Tuesday will pick up in Glenwood Springs and proceed toward Aspen, surveying the Crystal River Valley along the way.
Wednesday will complete the Aspen area, looking at the Frying Pan Valley enroute to Vail then proceed westward through Glenwood Canyon ending back in Glenwood Springs.
View from the ground
The transmission poles are approximately 50 feet tall and the helicopter will be flying by at 30 feet above the lines traveling anywhere from 25 to 40 miles per hour. Unless a problem area is located, a person on the ground will just see and hear a low-flying helicopter passing by, according to Holy Cross.
During the three days, when a problem is encountered the helicopter will circle back and hover for a few minutes to record the area with video, still shots and a GPS coordinate. It will then proceed along the line and away from that neighborhood.
“Believe me, those two to three minutes will seem more like 10 minutes” said Doug Sheffer the owner and chief pilot for DBS. “Our goal is to linger as little as possible at any one point during these three days. ... We appreciate people’s patience and understanding during this time.”