ATC copters to survey regional power lines

MARQUETTE – Helicopter crews working for the American Transmission Company should begin surveying some of the area’s electric transmission lines this week.

ATC contracted with Chemair Helicopters of Jefferson, Wis., to facilitate the survey of the system, which also includes transmission lines in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

Workers should be surveying the lines on Tuesday or Wednesday and will be looking for damage to the lines, as well as right-of-way encroachments and vegetation issues, according to ATC spokeswoman Kaya Freiman. Surveillance may also take place late the following week.

The power lines typically rise between 80 and 120 feet above ground level, and the survey copters fly about 10 feet above the lines, Freiman said.

“They fly around and do visual inspections,” she said. “It is just routine maintenance.”

The visual inspection is key, Freiman said, as a large portion of ATC’s 9,440 miles of lines are sited in remote, forested areas where people seldom travel. ATC typically conducts helicopter patrols two or three times each year.

“They may not necessarily follow a road and they are very difficult to access otherwise,” she said.

Problems that may be identified include damaged equipment, as well as tree limbs that could fall and cause unexpected outages.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.