UPDATE: PG&E conducted flyovers of substations this weekend and this morning, but will be cancelling the remainder of their aerial surveys for the week, due to weather.
MENDOCINO Co., 4/1/19 — It's a favorite pastime of Mendonesians to wonder what (or who or what) a particular helicopter flyover might represent. Well this week, some of those copters will be flown by PG&E as part aerial surveys to inspect lines and substations in advance of the fire season -- weather permitting.
The utilities company is of course massively on the hook, after their equipment was determined to be the causes of many of the hugely destructive fires that have swept through Northern California in the past couple years, and the extent to which these flights are routine, or part of changes post-fire, is unclear -- as are the repair schedules and efforts that might result if problems are found.
The flights will occur over Mendocino, Point Arena, Talmage, and Gualala, among other locations. The flights will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., weather depending. PG&E noted in a press release that, "Helicopters will be flying above the substation[s] at an altitude from ground of no lower than 250 feet for 10 minutes or less."
Here is an excerpt from the PG&E press release with some additional details for those of you wondering about the buzzing sounds overhead.
In Mendocino County, flights will occur over the Big River, Garcia, Gualala, Philo Junction and Point Arena substations. Depending on clear weather conditions, flights will occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Helicopters will be flying above the substation at an altitude from ground of no lower than 250 feet for 10 minutes or less and will follow all safety standards and Federal Aviation Administration regulations.Press release from PG&E on March 31, 2019.
If property owners have any questions or want to check for PG&E’s presence in their community, please email [email protected]. Additional information is available at pge.com/wildfireinspections.
PG&E inspection crews are conducting accelerated inspections of approximately 200 substations across the company’s service area. This work is being done as part of the company’s Community Wildfire Safety Program and is in addition to its routine inspections and maintenance programs. These helicopter inspections are taking place across PG&E’s service area in locations that have been designated as at elevated or extreme risk of wildfire based on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) High Fire-Threat District Map.