Power lines need grooming, too

No, it’s not a new way to give basketball players haircuts. American Transmission Co. is using a helicopter equipped with a heavy-duty saw to trim trees along the Arrowhead-West high-voltage transmission line between Hermantown and Wausau, Wis.

ATC contracted with Aerial Solutions Inc., based in Tabor City, N.C., to perform the work. The company uses McDonnell Douglas helicopters equipped with 24-horsepower saws with multiple rotary blades suspended on a 90-foot vertical boom.

“The 220-mile length of this transmission line corridor allows us to capture efficiencies with the aerial saw, especially in areas of rugged terrain that are difficult to access with ground crews,” ATC maintenance engineer Jerry Rhode said in a news release. “The helicopter and air saw can perform trimming in a few hours; a ground-based crew might take several days to accomplish the same amount of work in difficult terrain.”

ATC performs routine vegetation management on its more than 9,440 miles of transmission lines in five-year cycles.