Helicopters get birds eye view

Essential Energy has taken to the air to patrol thousands of kilometres of powerlines across the Mid North Coast and Upper Hunter region.

A helicopter using high-tech equipment is patrolling, with operators getting a bird's eye view of the electricity network.

Regional manager North Coast, Brendon Neyland, said the helicopter is being used for low level patrols of high voltage powerlines across the region.

Operators are using high resolution digital cameras linked to GPS equipment to capture images of poles, powerlines and other equipment, as well as potentially damaging overhanging vegetation.

“Using these images and the automatically recorded coordinates, we are able to identify faults or potential problem areas and return quickly to carryout repairs or maintenance,” Brendon said.

“Aerial inspections are perfect for inspecting overhead powerlines because they are fast and effective and not dependent on ground conditions. We don't have to gain access to private property and it doesn't matter if the terrain is difficult.”

He said that taking to the sky allowed Essential Energy to pinpoint potential weaknesses, including areas where the network had suffered damage from storms or where vegetation may create an issue.

“Once these have been identified, we are then able to send in our crews directly to the site to address the problems,” Brendon said.

He said the aerial patrols, combined with Essential Energy's ongoing inspection program of poles and wires from the ground, would ensure the local network was in the best possible condition to meet customers' energy demands heading into winter.

Visit Essential Energy website for more information or follow Essential Energy on Facebook and Twitter for updates about the patrols.