March 12, 2020 – As part of its ongoing response to California’s tree mortality crisis, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will conduct aerial patrols in Placer and El Dorado counties on Friday, March 13 to identify dead trees that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk.
Friday’s flight will be a little different than previous patrols as it will be focused on patrolling high-voltage facilities along approximately 50 miles of the Highway 49 corridor between the Nevada/Placer County line to the El Dorado/Amador County line. It will also patrol lines directly off the highway. This will allow for quicker assessment and avoid congestion along the highway.
The Bell 407 Helicopter will be leaving from the Placerville Airport at 8 a.m. Flights will be ongoing throughout the day until 4 p.m. in the areas of Elders Corner, North Auburn, Auburn, Cool, Pilot Hill, Lotus, Coloma, Gold Hill, Placerville, Diamond Springs, El Dorado, Nashville and the northern border of Enterprise.
PG&E is using a contract helicopter service to fly foresters over the area to inspect trees. Patrolling by air allows the company to cover many miles quickly and efficiently, and reduces impacts on the ground. Residents are advised that the helicopter will fly low – at about 200 to 300 feet above the ground – along distribution power lines, and higher in areas where livestock are present.
Every year, PG&E inspects and monitors every overhead electric transmission and distribution line, either on foot or by air, with some locations patrolled multiple times. Since the tree mortality crisis began, the energy company has increased foot and aerial patrols in high fire-risk areas to twice a year and up to four times a year in some locations. This year, PG&E expects to patrol over half of its overhead distribution lines at least two times.
PG&E helicopter patrols have been taking place in El Dorado County since Wednesday this week. Areas impacted include Diamond Springs, Placerville, Perks Corner, and the Southern border of Lotus; and Clarksville, Cameron Park, Skinners, Arroyo Vista, Rescue, Green Springs Ranch and the Eastern border of El Dorado Hills.