Western Power’s ability to inspect powerlines in the Mid-West region during the coming bushfire season will be boosted with the help of helicopters and specially trained fault crews.
The crews will fly across thousands of kilometres of network powerlines covering a mix of landscapes looking for causes of power outages and directing ground crews to exact locations.
Western Power’s Head of Regional North Operations Derek Sutherland said aerial inspections significantly improved how quickly faults were located enabling power to be restored quickly to affected customers.
“The Mid-West region is an extremely large part of the network covering a range of bush and agricultural land which is susceptible to bushfires during summer conditions,” he said.
“Adding helicopter inspections to our bushfire mitigation strategy during summer makes a real difference for our customers in this region. We flew around 140 hours last summer from Geraldton down to Moora and Northam.”
Mr Sutherland said Western Power implemented a range of bushfire mitigation measures all year round and worked under different practices during the summer.
“When high fire danger ratings are declared by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), we’re guided by vehicle movement bans which minimise bushfire risk but can affect the time taken to re-energise the network,” he said.
“During these conditions, helicopter line inspections are invaluable in identifying faults, which would normally be done by ground crews.”
Mr Sutherland said community support during helicopter inspections was fantastic, with appreciative and understanding property owners allowing the crews to land on their land if needed for aircraft refuelling.
Helicopter inspections will run throughout summer until the end of March 2021. The inspections are one of a number of bushfire mitigation strategies we have in place including vegetation management and pole and insulator replacements programs.