Ausgrid will use drones, low flying helicopters and planes in its annual bushfire safety program to assess power poles and powerlines across Sydney, the Hunter and Central Coast for any issues or faults which could pose a bushfire risk in the warmer months.
Residents may see various aircraft as specialist crews begin aerial patrols to inspect the electricity network.
On the ground, crews are also contacting property owners who have private power poles on their land and completing inspections to ensure they address maintenance issues.
Ausgrid general manager field operations Sam Sofi said the bushfire safety program is a vital part of Ausgrid’s summer readiness plan.
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“No-one will forget the catastrophic fires of 2019 which caused so much loss of life and property destruction,” Mr Sofi said.
“Ausgrid has a comprehensive annual safety program in place to help protect the community and reduce the risks of bushfires.
“We will be using multiple helicopters and drones as well as a plane this year so we can finish the patrols by the end of June, well before the start of the next bushfire season in September.
“The helicopter crews will be using radar imaging equipment and high-resolution photographs to identify any hazards on our poles and wires and trees growing too close to powerlines with an accuracy of within two centimetres.”
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Crews will be in the air from about 8.30am to 4pm (weather permitting) and property owners may want to consider securing livestock during the patrols.
The helicopters fly between 18 and 55 kilometres per hour and approximately 500 feet above ground level in rural areas and 1000 feet in urban areas. When flying low they can startle livestock in rural areas.
The plane will be flying 1400 to 1700 feet above ground level and reaching speeds of 180 to 210 kilometres an hour.
Cameras on the helicopters, plane and drones will be focused on pole tops only during the bushfire safety patrols.
Ausgrid’s network covers an area of more than 22,000 square kilometres across Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter, from Waterfall in the South, west to Auburn and just north of Scone.