High Costs of Maintaining Overhead Power Lines

AltaLink issued this news release August 23, 2012, to inform the public it performs annual aerial patrols, by helicopter, of its electricity transmission system in Alberta.

An AltaLink spokesperson said, “Aerial patrols are a necessary part of our asset management program. By preparing in advance, and addressing trouble areas quickly, we are able to keep the lights on for Albertans.”

As anyone who has ever chartered a helicopter knows, helicopter hourly fees are expensive. AltaLink’s annual helicopter patrols would quickly add up to millions of dollars. These costs are simply added on to the many other maintenance costs of AltaLink’s overhead transmission system, and passed on to the customer along with administration fees, etc. Underground electricity cable experts point to the significantly higher maintenance costs for overhead transmission lines than for buried lines as one of several reasons why underground lines can be less expensive than overhead lines, over the life of a line. Other reasons overhead lines are more expensive than buried lines include: higher transmission loss costs, lengthy planning delays, major adjacent property devaluation, and negative financial impacts on tourism.

In addition to the high cost of helicopters to conduct aerial transmission line patrols, flying either helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft close to overhead power lines can be hazardous.

~ by RETA on August 26, 2012.

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