BC Hydro crews are performing maintenance along the crown corporation's lines between Terrace and Smithers.

High flying BC Hydro crews do maintenance work

Helicopters take workers to tower tops in northwestern B.C.

Helicopters hovering over Copper Mountain last week were lowering BC Hydro workers and equipment onto the power lines and transmission towers to do maintenance work.

The crew, who are power line technicians based in Terrace, some of whom were born and raised here, were replacing spacers and dampers on the 500 kV lines and also adding arching horns with the insulators, said BC Hydro official Dave Mosure.

Spacer-dampers keep lines from contacting each other; insulators prevent electrical current from passing to the ground through the tower; and arching-horns help prevent damage to insulators from lightning – the main cause of damage to insulators – by taking the energy from a lightning strike and rerouting it around the insulators and safely dissipating the energy, he explained.

“The work is part of regular maintenance on the lines,” said Mosure, adding that these parts are nearing their end of their service life.

Workers were high up on the lines and towers – the average height of a 500,000 volt transmission tower is 80 feet (24.4 m), said Mosure.

They can work safely on the lines while energized using a method called “barehanding,” he explained.

“Our power line technicians also wear special “barehand” suits, which allow them to work on live lines and prevents electrical current from flowing through the body.”

The workers will continue to do maintenance in between Smithers and Terrace to about September 2 although they are ahead of schedule so work may wrap up early, added Mosure.