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Western Power will be treating a further 2000 insulators by helicopter on the long power line feeding Dongara, Springfield, Milo and Greenough to improve network resilience in the Mid West region.

Comprehensive siliconing and washing of the insulators is due to get under way mid-year and follows the successful trial of helicopter line washing on Western Power’s distribution network.

Western Power has engaged airborne electrical services specialists Aeropower to undertake the live line washing and siliconing, following the company’s successful treatment of more than 400 insulators earlier this year.

Washing and siliconing helps prevent network damage by reducing the risk of pole top fires, which can occur during light drizzling rain or misty damp conditions when a combination of recent dust and pollution builds up to creates paths or ‘tracks’ on the insulators, enabling electricity to jump across. This tracking electricity can heat elements of the pole infrastructure to a point where they smoulder and burn, leading to faults and resulting power outages.

Acting Executive Manager Asset Operations Zane Christmas said the washing and siliconing program would help in areas where pollution such as sea salt in coastal areas or dust during harvest periods can impact infrastructure.

“Through our network maintenance programs we’re constantly improving the way we manage assets including the 860,000 poles in the network. We’ve a comprehensive program in place to mitigate risks on our poles and wires including insulator replacements, managing trees and vegetation near wires, as well as high-pressure washing of insulators, and siliconing,” he said.

“Now that the trial has been completed successfully and we’ve established a safe and efficient way of washing live distribution lines using helicopters, we’ve engaged Aeropower to treat a further 2000 insulators in the Mid West, and are looking to roll the program out elsewhere in WA.”

Mr Christmas said the Mid West works were expected to be completed towards the end of this year.

“We’ll be communicating directly with landowners prior to ensure they are aware of any works being undertaken around their properties,” he said.

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