There’s a buzz in the air lately about Tampa Electric’s commitment to the community. Some of it you may have heard in conversations about the company’s 99.9 percent reliability. Some of it has come from a helicopter.
The company recently finished helicopter inspections of about 5,200 transmission structures, hovering up to 300 feet above the ground over poles, wires and other equipment. The inspections, which this year began in January, review about 17 percent of Tampa Electric’s transmission infrastructure annually.
“The inspections find minor issues that need maintenance on a fairly regular basis, which you can expect due to the equipment’s constant exposure to the elements,” said Bryan Phillips, P.E., engineer II with Transmission Operations and the coordinator of the inspections. “Major issues that need immediate repair turn up on less than 0.5 percent of the equipment. On an ongoing basis, our system is in good shape, but checking it out from a helicopter helps us make sure.”
Phillips cited efficiency as a key benefit of the helicopter inspections. While ground inspections can study about 100 structures in a day, the helicopter can check out about 300. But the top priority with the airborne inspections, Phillips stressed, is safety. He praised the safety and accuracy of Haverfield Aviation, the company Tampa Electric contracts with for the inspections.
It all adds up to a critical part of how Tampa Electric serves the community.
“We send out advance notice about the inspections to local governments and the media, and we make sure our outstanding CSPs have the information to resolve the occasional minor complaints about the helicopter noise,” Phillips said. “In the end, when customers realize how important it is that we check our system to ensure good reliability, they appreciate what we’re doing.”