For Immediate Release: December 27, 2019

SMUD doing maintenance on power lines by helicopter

SMUD line personnel work while suspended from a helicopter to keep the SMUD system reliable

SMUD lineworkers, suspended from a helicopter, are changing out equipment that protects power lines from lightning and from wear and tear, as necessary, on SMUD high-voltage transmission lines in Folsom, El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park.

The work, utilizing what’s known as “longline method”, is being done to prevent faults on those lines, which could significantly impact SMUD’s electrical system. Longlining is highly efficient and reduces impact to communities in the vicinity of the transmission lines. The work is part of SMUD’s annual infrastructure maintenance and is critical to SMUD’s safety and reliability.

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Safety is SMUD’s guiding principle. Power reliability is a core value set by the elected SMUD Board of Directors. To fulfill that policy, SMUD continues to bolster the infrastructure that comprises SMUD’s grid year round by conducting extensive and routine inspections and maintenance of its electrical lines and equipment. In addition to using helicopters and sometimes airplanes, the work is also carried out via line patrolling, which is done at the ground level, and in some cases using UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles—or drones). “This grid-hardening maintenance project is just one example of the proactive approach SMUD takes annually to ensure our electrical system continues to perform optimally, safely and reliably,” said Frankie McDermott SMUD Chief Energy Delivery Officer.

SMUD’s high-voltage transmission lines in the Sierra deliver large amounts of power from the Upper American River Project (UARP), SMUD’s huge system of hydroelectric power plants in the Sierra. The UARP’s nearly 700 megawatts of clean power can provide about 20 percent of SMUD’s power in a normal water year, which can be crucial especially in summer months when market power is more expensive.

The high-voltage lines are strung atop high lattice-style towers. Maintenance and repairs on them can involve a lot of work, sometimes more than a hundred feet above the ground. To optimize electrical transmission on those lines, especially during the hot summer months when hydro power can be a critical power resource, SMUD is conducting maintenance work now as winter begins and power system demand is much lower and the lines can be de-energized while the work is being done.

SMUD carries out communication efforts to advise and notify local authorities in the communities where the work is being conducted.
For more information about SMUD, visit SMUD.org.

SMUD lineworkers, suspended from a helicopter, changed out equipment that protects power lines from lightning and from wear and tear, as necessary, on SMUD high-voltage transmission lines in Folsom, El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park. The work is part of year-round, grid-hardening projects to keep SMUD’s system safe and reliable.