Helicopters are taking to the skies in North Queensland as Powerlink prepares the transmission network for the upcoming summer season.

Powerlink is an Australian provider of high voltage electricity transmission network services, delivering electricity to more than four million Queenslanders across a vast 1,700km transmission network, stretching from Cairns in the north of the state down to New South Wales. They provide network connections for large-scale generators and major industrial customers including rail systems, mines and mineral processing facilities.

Powerlink’s pre-summer preparations include emergency exercises, reviews of contingency plans, vegetation management, and routine inspections and maintenance of transmission lines and substations across the state.

Maintenance of the transmissions lines and towers in particular is a vital part of Powerlink’s summer preparations, and a key component of this involves choppers being deployed for a critical maintenance operation in North Queensland. The work, which is scheduled depending on the weather, involves spray washing 594 transmission towers from the air and will be undertaken in areas including Townsville, Ayr, Mareeba, Collinsville and Moranbah between October and December.

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the activities were an important part of ensuring the safety and reliability of the transmission system ahead of the storm and cyclone seasons.

Dr Lynham added that highly-trained pilots fly the helicopters, which are fitted with a special attachment that sprays demineralised water at high pressure to clean the insulators. This helps ensure the transmission network is ready for the unpredictable weather over summer.

Washing is carried out on towers to remove any contaminants, including dust, which can build up on the insulators during the drier parts of the year.

Powerlink’s Interim Chief Executive Kevin Kehl advised that the inspections and insulator washing would be done in a way to minimise any potential disturbance to local communities.

Here at AEMO, in addition to our normal practices of working diligently with industry and governments to prepare for the coming summer, we will be sharing a range of fact sheets and multimedia such as animations and podcasts to upskill our readers and the wider community on some of the important lingo used during summer. Stay tuned for more!

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