Helicopters to be performing inspections on electrical ‘hot spots’ south of Colorado River | PostIndependent.com

Helicopters to be performing inspections on electrical ‘hot spots’ south of Colorado River

As part of an ongoing effort to monitor the health of their electrical transmission grid and reduce outages, Holy Cross Energy, DBS Helicopters of Rifle and HotShot Infrared Inspections of Fort Collins will survey 250 miles of transmission lines from the air.

The survey is scheduled to take place from Monday, Jan. 27, through Wednesday, Jan. 29, using infrared photography to identify potential trouble spots on power lines and at substation facilities.

This project will cover the entire Holy Cross system. The schedule calls for flights to start Monday in DeBeque and end in Glenwood Springs. Rifle-area residents may notice low-flying helicopters, hovering in place for a few minutes at a time along the power lines south of the Colorado River, on Monday afternoon, said DBS owner and chief pilot Doug Sheffer.

Tuesday will start 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 en route to the Vail Valley, then back westward through Glenwood Canyon, ending in Glenwood Springs.

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, Sheffer said. Unless a problem area is located, a person on the ground will just see and hear a low-flying helicopter passing by.

Over the three days, Sheffer said 15-25 possible spots will be identified as issues. When a problem is encountered, the helicopter will circle back and hover for two or three 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 Sheffer. “Our goal is to linger as little as possible at any one point during these three days.”

Sheffer said all area law enforcement agencies will be informed of the flight plans for each day, so they can relay the information if residents call with concerns.

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