ITC planning aerial power line inspections in Eastern Iowa

Low-flying helicopters will be used for patrols

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If you see a helicopter flying fairly low over power lines in Eastern Iowa over the next month, there will be no reason for alarm,

ITC will be conducting semiannual aerial patrols of high-voltage transmission structures and power lines throughout its service territory roughly from Sept. 19 through Oct. 10.

Helicopter flights will be conducted — weather permitting — to provide an overall status of the overhead transmission system that is owned and operated by ITC’s Iowa-based operating entity, ITC Midwest in Cedar Rapids.

The company, in a news release, said the aerial inspections in the company’s southeast region will cover an area ranging approximately from the Mississippi River in Keokuk and Burlington to Cedar Rapids and Ottumwa.

The inspection flights are often conducted at low altitudes to provide accurate visual inspection of equipment for lightning damage, wear or other potential problems.

The patrols are a North American Electrical Reliability Corp. requirement for ITC’s tree interference program. The inspections also support ITC’s proactive maintenance objectives.

Steel structures, wooden poles, wires, insulators and other equipment will be inspected. Crews will check for damaged or worn equipment and tree interference hazards.

ITC said tree interference with high-voltage transmission lines is a leading cause of electric power outages and poses a safety threat to the public. A secondary objective of vegetation management is keeping access routes to transmission equipment free of large woody plants and trees to enable regular inspection and maintenance activities.

ITC Midwest operates more than 6,600 miles of transmission lines in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Missouri. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electric transmission company.

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