SDG&E helicopters grounded after latest incident

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The California Public Utilities Commission Monday
ordered San Diego Gas & Electric to stop using helicopters to build the Sunrise
Powerlink transmission line until further notice.

According to the CPUC, the air-crane helicopters used on the project
have been involved in eight incidents, seven since June. The latest took place
Monday, the dropping of a straw boom used to prevent erosion.

When the commission granted SDG&E permission to build the line, it
retained authority to shut down construction activities.

The utility did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sunrise Powerlink will be a major transmission line to carry electricity
from the Imperial Valley over the East County mountains to San Diego,
providing another source of energy for the increasing power demands of a
growing metropolis.

In a letter to the utility, the CPUC ordered the company to conduct a
safety stand-down to review operations and safety procedures with all pilots
and ground personnel, and conduct training sessions on rigging helicopter
loads.

When those conditions are satisfied, the commission plans to let flights
resume, but restrict helicopter operations only to areas where there is no
road access.

Categories: KUSI