Xcel Energy conducts transmission line inspections year-round. Traditionally they inspect lines from either the ground or from fixed-wing aircraft. Beginning today (April 4) they will begin transmission line inspections with helicopters. These helicopter inspections will give inspectors an opportunity to take a closer look at lines with more of a birds-eye view to identify any repairs that might be needed.

Crews also will look for encroachment issues, such as buildings on or near line rights of way or trees growing too close to transmission lines.

The helicopters will fly within 50 feet of transmission lines at high and low speeds. The inspections are expected to take several weeks during April.

Xcel Energy provides electric service to 3.3 million customers and natural gas service to 1.8 million in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. They operate more than 7,200 miles of high voltage transmission lines in the Upper Midwest.

So if you notice an outbreak of low-flying or hovering helicopters over the next several weeks, it just might be an Xcel Energy transmission line inspection crew.