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Energy company using a helicopter to trim West Michigan trees
WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A helicopter hired by Indiana Michigan Power will be out all month long trimming trees in West Michigan.
The helicopter, using several motor-powered saw blades, will trim trees along transmission power lines in St. Joseph, Cass, Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Berrien counties. The goal is to make sure there's at least 10 feet between the trees and the wires.
"What they're trimming are our transmission lines, these are the big wires that take bulk wire to our sub stations and from there the distribution lines go out to serve our customers. So these are the important lines that work to keep the grid up," said Barry Visel, Indiana Michigan Power.
The one-man crew is working to make sure the lines remain safe for workers and reliable for customers.
"Our biggest reliability issue is vegetation, limbs, trees getting into our lines. Usually happens during storms but there's dead limbs up there from the last storm or storms that can come down anytime. If they cross and get hung up on our wires that can take power out until we clear it off," said Visel.
But tackling the job isn't cheap.
"We're spending about $40,000 a week to manage this process," said Visel.
Despite the hefty price tag Visel says it would cost about four to five times more to use a ground crew.
The trim can last up to five years.