Three-year aerial survey of Tri-State transmission system underway

This high performance helicopter owned by Merrick Co. will be collecting geo-spatial data on Tri-State’s transmission system.

A scheduled three-year aerial survey of Tri-State’s entire four-state transmission system (100-kV and greater) began this week in Colorado, starting with over-flights along some of the association’s high priority transmission lines that must be accessed during the summer months when there is no snowpack along the rights-of-way.

Tri-State has contracted with Merrick Co. to collect survey data and geo-spatial information using an airborne laser mapping system called LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging.

“The LIDAR equipment – mounted on the belly of a helicopter – will provide us with precision mapping of Tri-State’s entire transmission system,” said Tom Chinn, transmission project manager.  In addition to the high resolution LIDAR survey, the contractor will also provide Tri-State with ortho-photography, oblique photography and infrared imaging of the association’s system.

“The bottom line is that when the survey is completed, we will have a very comprehensive picture of all of the lines and substations that we operate, maintain and have ownership in throughout our system,” said Chinn.

The aerial survey is expected to further enhance the data that Tri-State’s GIS group has been collecting over the past several years, while providing better vertical and horizontal accuracy of the transmission system.

All of Tri-State’s transmission tower structures will be surveyed over the next three years.

Landowners have requested that Tri-State complete aerial surveys as soon as possible in areas that are used by hunters during the late summer and fall. As a result, the first flyovers are scheduled to be completed on the Craig to Rifle, the Meeker to Rangely and the Gore Pass to Hayden lines in northwest Colorado by Aug. 1.

The survey is being conducted as part of a North American Electric Reliability Corporation recommendation that all electric transmission providers to conduct similar assessments of their systems. “In addition, this comprehensive field survey will help us ensure that the design of our transmission facilities match our construction and that we don’t have any encumbrances or clearance issues
along our rights-of-way,” Chinn added.

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