Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com COPYRIGHT PICTURE>>SHAUN FLANNERY>01302-570814>>07778315553>> 14th April 2010...........A National Grid helicopter checks out pylons near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com COPYRIGHT PICTURE>>SHAUN FLANNERY>01302-570814>>07778315553>> 14th April 2010...........A National Grid helicopter checks out pylons near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
A National Grid helicopter surveys power lines. The US inspection is expected to take five weeks to complete (Pic credit: Shaun Flannery)

In the US, electricity utility National Grid announced this week it has started its semi-annual aerial inspections of transmission lines in its service area in a bid to avoid outages.

The utility is conducting helicopter flyovers of more than 2,900 miles (4,600 kms) of high-voltage lines in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The helicopter inspections are conducted by personnel using gyroscopic binoculars looking for signs of wear on power line conductors and lightning protection devices; damaged or leaning transmission structures; loose or broken guy wires; broken, chipped or cracked insulator equipment; and trees leaning toward the lines or into the transmission corridors.

National Grid said it also conducts the flights to identify signs of waste disposal or unauthorized construction on the rights of way, which could alter the amount of clearance between the ground and the power lines.

The aerial inspections are expected to take approximately five weeks to complete and form part of National Grid's "proactive" approach to grid management, the utility said.

Commenting on the work, David Way, vice president, Project Management and Complex Construction, at National Grid, said: "Transmission lines can be damaged during the winter months by severe weather, making now an ideal time to have an up-close look and make sure customers have the reliable service they deserve and expect."

Demand response in North America

In other North American utility news, new research has highlighted the potential for demand response in the region following the Atlantic Coast hurricane in 2012.

Navigant Research said the "concepts of resiliency and microgrids have taken strong root" in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane.

The report predicts that demand response will be an integral part of those developments with the advent of grid modernization being tied to this new view on how the grid should be designed.

According to Navigant Research, global spending on demand response technology is expected to grow from US$183.8 million in 2015 to more than US$1.3 billion in 2024.