Aerial installation of optical ground wire on Tri-State line wraps up this month

The helicopter, among other tasks, is used to hoist the travelers shown in the photo to transmission line structures, where they are attached for pulling the optical ground wire from one structure to the next.

The helicopter, among other tasks, is used to hoist the travelers shown in the photo to transmission line structures, where they are attached for pulling the optical ground wire from one structure to the next.

If climbing transmission towers for a living sounds daunting then consider the adrenaline rush that must factor into the job of crews that rely on a specially designed, high altitude helicopter that dangles them above the nearly inaccessible (by road) mountainous terrain to reach the transmission line towers of a Tri-State line near scenic Silverton, Colo.

The contractor crew’s  job is to remove the existing static line on a 17-mile segment of the association’s Cascade-Silverton 115-kV line from the Durango Mountain Resort to the west side of Silverton and replace it with an optical ground wire that contains a core of fiber optic strands for upgraded communications and broadband services to the area.

The contractor performing the work on Tri-State’s line is Atkinson Power LLC, based in Bethesda, Maryland. The project is being funded by EAGLE-Net Alliance. EAGLE-Net is a Broomfield, Colo.-based intergovernmental entity which operates a cost-sharing cooperative that delivers a carrier quality broadband network to more than 170 communities in Colorado.

Sarah Carlisle, Tri-State’s public affairs coordinator, discusses the project with Ron Scott from Atkinson Power.

Sarah Carlisle, Tri-State’s public affairs coordinator, discusses the project with Ron Scott from Atkinson Power.

The project, which is slated for completion by the end of this month, calls for the installation of an optical ground wire containing 48 strands of fiber – 12 of which will be utilized by Tri-State for internal communications purposes.

Tri-State members, La Plata Electric Association (Durango, Colo.) and San Miguel Power Association (Nucla and Ridgway, Colo.) will benefit from the broadband internet service that will be made available to schools in the communities that are electrically served by those co-ops.

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