When the aging power line poles you need to replace are on a hillside steep enough to make a mountain goat nervous, it’s time for innovation.
A recent distribution line replacement project near Hegins, Schuylkill County, is proof of that.
In other situations, moving the line closer to the nearby road might have been an option. But the steep, snaking roadway meant relocation would still have been on sharp-sloped ground and would have resulted in a much longer and costlier project.
The project team decided to investigate whether setting the new poles using a helicopter would be the way to go. Though an uncommon method for installing distribution poles, the team knew it had been done by other companies.
“When all the factors were considered, using a helicopter was by far the safest, fastest and most economical way to get these poles in place,” said Ben Hunter, project manager.
In all, six new poles were placed by the helicopter. What would have taken at least a week was done in less than a day.
Following the safety meeting covering the day’s activities and a specific tailboard by the flight crew, the helicopter lifted new wooden poles — with fiberglass cross arms and the necessary hardware already attached — one by one and transported them to the distribution line right of way.
The project is projected to boost reliability for about 2,600 customers in the area.