Keeping trees and brush from tripping transmission lines out of service, possibly sparking wildfires and compromising public safety, is a year-round job for the Bonneville Power Administration.
With lines traversing 8,500 miles of right-of-way corridors, many in rugged and forested Northwest terrain, sometimes it’s safer to take an aerial approach to vegetation management. A helicopter equipped with a saw can quickly and safely trim tree tops and overreaching limbs.
On Oct. 20, BPA partnered with the Eugene Water & Electric Board to host a media observation, demonstrating how helicopters help power utilities effectively and safely trim vegetation that could disrupt power lines.
The trimming and observation took place an hour east of Eugene, Oregon, along EWEB’s Carmen-Smith transmission line, which runs through the Willamette National Forest. This line is a vital connection for EWEB’s electric distribution system and links to BPA’s transmission system. It allows generation from EWEB’s Carmen-Smith Hydropower Project to serve EWEB customers in Eugene and the McKenzie River Valley or to move onto BPA’s transmission network, allowing EWEB to market the power to electric utilities across the West.
The helicopter, hired by EWEB and operated by Medford-based Heli-Dunn, used a suspended saw device to top trees and trim off branches growing too close to the power lines. You can view a video below. Earlier in October, BPA used Heli-Dunn’s services to trim along one of its power lines near Detroit, Oregon.