PG&E conducts helicopter survey of drought-stricken trees

May 26, 2015 9:09 PM by Charlene Cheng

Crews flying above Burney have a bird's-eye view of the trees below.

In this area, mostly cedars, firs, and ponderosa pines.

But among the lush evergreens, there are spots of brown, alarming close to PG&E distribution power lines.

Foresters are checking for dead leaves and broken limbs.

"If the tree falls on a line in a drought condition, not only can it cost a power outage, but it could cause a fire as well," PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said.

Armed a GPS and paper, they mark down vegetation that will later be pruned or removed.

This annual patrol is usually performed by ground crews, but that's not enough during the drought.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, California's lack of water has already killed over 12 million of trees, and left others weak and an easy target for disease and insects.

"These trees were looked at six months by a foot patrol, we're doing an additional air patrol, because we're finding that a lot of trees have succumbed in the last six months," Moreno said.

PG&E manages hundreds of thousands of miles of power lines around Northern California.

In just two days, they have already found hundreds of potential hazards.

"Just by going out and looking at these trees, identified about 350 that need a closer look. That's certainly a very good payback because we can prevent a forest fire and we can prevent power outages," Moreno said.

PG&E plans on more than a dozen additional helicopter surveys in Northern California in the coming months.


Most Popular