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Surprise, AZ: "Look up in the sky, It's a bird, it's a man, actually you are right on both accounts. The man is a trained and certified inspector working for Salt River Project (SRP) and the bird is an SRP Bell 212 utility Helicopter.
Near the 303 and Grand Avenue intersection are 500,000 volts electric lines that cross over the highway. These lines originate at Palo Verde Nuclear Plant and go to the West Wing Substation. The power lines are owned by several utility companies and are maintained by SRP.
Daryl Chipman of the SRP Power Group stated that SRP does twice a year fly by inspections of the lines and towers. Then every ten to twelve years a physical inspection known as "climb and shake" is done. The electric lattice type towers are much the same as an erector set.
Rather than have the inspector climb up and down the towers, which would be too exhausting. The inspectors are dropped from a helicopter. The inspector will actually shake the tower and listen for loose bolts or other problems. He will document all that he finds and repair what he can on the way down.
By using helicopters to put the inspectors on the top of the towers it allows for 40 to 50 towers to be inspected in one day. After inspecting a tower the helicopter will pick them up and take them to another tower.
The skilled work of the helicopter pilots and trained inspectors is both dangerous and an amazing show of skill. The maximum wind that they will work in is limited to 30 mph. On the day this inspection was performed, wind gust were in the 20+miles per hour range.
Next time you use any electricity, think about the electrifying effort that is done to provide it to you and appreciate it !
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