August 28, 2009 3:07 PM
AUGUSTA, Maine, August 27, 2009 — Central Maine Power Co. (CMP) began its late-summer inspections of its transmission lines this week. The flights are an important part of the utility’s annual inspection program to ensure safe, reliable delivery of power to homes and businesses throughout its service area.
The utility inspects more than 600 miles of transmission lines using a helicopter equipped with infrared equipment to detect “hot spots” that might need attention.
“Our lines are exposed to the weather all the time, and extreme temperatures and precipitation can take their toll on switches, clamps, insulators, and other equipment,” says CMP spokesman John Carroll. “These devices often heat up if there’s been minor damage or wear, so inspecting the lines with infrared equipment lets us find and fix problems before they cause a power outage.”
CMP owns nearly 2,200 miles of transmission line. It inspects the complete system on a four-year rotating schedule. The utility also does aerial patrols following severe storms or when its Dispatch Center detects an abnormality such as a momentary outage from a lightning strike or a change in voltage.
Each spring, CMP also does a visual inspection of all of its transmission rights-of-way from the air. These flights help spot potential problems with equipment, as well as signs of unauthorized use.
“When people encroach on our rights-of-ways with heavy equipment during logging and other operations, it poses a threat to both system reliability and public safety,” says Carroll. “We also have had problems with people using our rights-of-way to dispose of old appliances, building materials, and cars, and even for all-terrain truck ‘mud runs.’ This unauthorized use is bad for the environment, and unfair to people who live nearby who should be able to enjoy some peace and quiet around their homes