PG&E conducts pre-inspections with helicopters in Lake, Humboldt and Mendocino counties

Starting Tuesday, April 12, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will begin conducting practice patrol flights in the North Coast, as part of its efforts to reduce the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoff, or PSPS, events on customers.

High winds can cause tree branches and debris to contact energized electric lines, damage equipment and cause a wildfire.

As a result, the company may need to turn off power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires.

PG&E does not anticipate initiating a PSPS this week.

During an actual PSPS, power cannot be restored until the severe weather passes and the lines are free of tree branches and other debris. Crews will inspect de-energized lines utilizing aircraft, vehicles, and foot patrols to identify and repair damage before restoring power.

“These practice patrols are designed to gather information that helps PG&E understand the amount of time it takes to safely complete the patrol,” said Ron Richardson, vice president of PG&E’s North Coast Region. “The pre-patrols improve safety, help us execute the patrol more efficiently and provide key information to determine service restoration timing – all to reduce the impact on our customers during an actual PSPS.”

PG&E will be flying different helicopters at different times Monday through Friday, but not necessarily every day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. through the month of April.

Helicopters will fly low, roughly 100 feet, along electric distribution lines within Lake, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties.

Patrol areas include:

• Annapolis, Bridgeville, Carlotta, Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Eel River, Elk, Fort Bragg, Fort Seward, Fruitland, Garberville, Gualala, Harris, Hoopa, Low Gap, Maple Creek, Middletown, Mount Konocti, Point Arena, Rio Dell and Willow Creek.

If hazards or damage is identified during the patrols, they will be reported immediately.

Power will not be interrupted during patrols.