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Utility to Inspect Power Lines with Low-Flying Helicopters

Be on the lookout for low-flying helicopters on Monday, May 14.

If you see a low-flying helicopter next Monday, don't worry — the police aren't conducting a manhunt.

It's actually a National Grid crew inspecting overhead power lines.

In a job that seems to take the term "workplace hazards" to new heights, these helicopters fly close to the lines to "spot potential problems with equipment structures or lines so that they can be addressed before service interruptions occur," according to a National Grid press release.

Many of the lines are in remote areas, making travel with vehicles difficult. The birds-eye perspective also makes it easier to spot problems or impending issues with tree limbs getting too close to lines.

The inspectors also use infra-red cameras to spot infrastructure wear and tear.

 “These flights are part of our on-going, proactive approach to maintaining overall system reliability,” said Kathy A. Lyford, Vice President, Construction & Maintenance for National Grid in New England. “They are invaluable in helping us head off outages that could effect thousands of our customers.”

National Grid has notified police and fire departments as well as municipal officials in communities where the patrols will take place. Individuals with questions or concerns can contact National Grid’s toll-free customer service line at 1-800-322-3223.

Along with Cranston, the inspections will occur on May 14 in Providence, Johnston, Scituate, Smithfield and North Providence. The following day, the communities of North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Richmond, Charlestown, East Greenwich, Westerly, Warwick, Hopkinton, Narragansett, Scituate, Exeter, West Greenwich and Coventry will see the choppers.

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