“Our reliability standards, after that outage...became more robust,” Eversource spokesman Frank Poirot said.
Currently, Eversource conducts two infrared inspections, a vegetation management inspection and a visual equipment inspection of all lines each year. The statewide utility also occasionally conducts spontaneous flights following a severe storm that may have damaged a circuit.
For visual equipment inspections, crew members rely on spotting issues with the naked eye.
“For the most part, we can see just from the cockpit of the helicopter, what’s going on,” Poirot said.
Recently, Eversource began compiling a high-resolution photo database of all circuits.
About two separate two-hour flights are held each day. The inspection crew includes specialists from each department, depending on the nature of the flight.
Power line structures are located about every 600 feet through 800 miles of right-of-way. Eversource has about 1,600 miles of circuits in the state alone.
AirOcean is considered the base of operations, though helicopters occasionally refuel or park at other airports around the state.
Meriden-Markham Airport as seen from a helicopter used for Eversource Energy power line inspections on Monday, Dec. 19. | Bryan Lipiner, Record-Journal
Some weather elements, including the rain, snow, fog and gusty winds, can inhibit the ability to fly.
Power lines typically experience wear due to weather elements. Animals, such as woodpeckers, can also damage poles.
Monday’s route began at AirOcean Aviation in Wallingford. After rising to about 1,200 feet and traveling as fast as 115 mph, inspections began in Branford. When crews are inspecting lines, the helicopter typically travels about 25 mph and maintains a distance of about 50 feet from power lines. Under special circumstances, the helicopter can fly within 20 feet of the lines.