Keys Energy Services took to the air Friday as part of a helicopter-based survey of the electricity transmission line, or tieline, as it is commonly known.
The public utility will continue the inspections from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Keys Energy Services spokesman Julio Barroso said.
Aerial crews will be performing the surveys from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, weather permitting.
The surveys are challenging and involve one or two workers being tethered to the side of the helicopter and standing on its skids. The crew is working 700 to 800 feet above the ground, Barroso said.
Utility-contracted workers will be focusing their efforts along U.S. 1, Garrison Bight to Key West Yacht Club area, Kennedy Drive, and Stock Island - north of U.S. 1 and the Key Haven areas. Additionally, residents are advised to drive safely while this survey is in progress, and keep their focus on the road and not the helicopter flying overhead, Barroso said.
The survey is the result of a North American Electric Reliability Corporation requirement that utilities verify their "original transmission line design" is representative of the "actual field conditions," Barroso said. The helicopter-based survey will expedite the process and allow Keys Energy Services to better report discrepancies between the design and actual field conditions.
"This requirement is one of many electric utilities coordinate in an effort to ensure the continued reliability of our systems," said Lynne Tejeda, Keys Energy Services CEO. "Five Florida municipal utilities and the Florida Municipal Power Agency worked together to identify and select the vendor to perform this survey."
Aerial Cartographers of America, Inc. was selected as the vendor for this project, at a total cost to KEYS of $120,700.