PG&E Conducting Line Inspections Using Drones and Helicopters

PG&E is conducting its updated System Inspections program in the North Bay and North Coast using drones and helicopters along electric transmission lines.

The program accelerates inspection cycles beyond compliance regulations to align with wildfire risk. It’s one of many initiatives PG&E has undertaken to protect grid safety and reliability, with other measures including enhanced vegetation management and system-hardening.

The program occurs on an ongoing basis to find and fix potential risks to the safety and reliability of our system. PG&E is prioritizing work in areas of extreme (Tier 3) and elevated (Tier 2) wildfire risk as defined by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) High Fire-Threat District Map. Equipment along electric transmission lines located in Tier 3 and Tier 2 areas will be evaluated more frequently, while infrastructure in non-high fire-threat areas will be inspected at least every six years.

In 2020, the company plans to inspect more than 15,000 miles of its electric lines. That includes all lines in Tier 3 areas and one-third of all lines in Tier 2 areas. Also planned are inspections of additional line miles in non-high fire-threat areas. The inspections will occur through the end of the year.

PG&E has notified customers along several transmission lines throughout Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt Counties of the drone and helicopter flights via postcards or automated phone calls.

The inspection areas are as follows:

  • Sonoma: Petaluma, Lakeville, Fort Ross, Monte Rio, Fulton, Healdsburg, the Geysers, Windsor, Cloverdale and Fitch Mountain.
  • Mendocino: Along the coast from Fort Bragg to Elk, Potter Valley to Willits, Konocti to Middletown, Mendocino to Philo, Hopland and Ukiah.
  • Humboldt: Garberville to Laytonville, Maple Creek to Hoopa, Rio Dell, Blue Lake, Bridgeville to Garberville, Essex to Arcata to Fairhaven, Orick, and Trinidad.

Inspectors are looking at all components of our assets, including cross-arms, insulators and footings, along with critical electrical components and equipment. Inspectors document findings through high-resolution images, which are reviewed by dedicated teams experienced in system maintenance, engineering, construction and maintenance planning to evaluate identified conditions.

All the highest-priority conditions found through inspections will be promptly repaired or made safe. Repairs for all other conditions are scheduled for completion as part of our routine work execution plan.

Weather permitting and barring maintenance issues, flights will occur Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m. over the next couple of months.