I’ve been a member of the Sigüenza brigade (Guadalajara) for 25 years and one of the tasks we’ve carried out in every one of those years is the inspection of overhead power lines. This involves monitoring and supervising all of the elements in these electrical installations to detect possible anomalies and avoid the occurrence of faults at times of peak demand or in adverse weather conditions, which tend to happen in summer and winter.
The last inspection we performed was on a 182 km long medium voltage power line in Atienza (Guadalajara). The work was very thorough, i.e. we had to check all the supports, one by one, and supervise every element of which they are composed: openings, jumper struts, insulators, connections, etc. We also paid attention to things that were not part of the power line but which might affect it, such as trees, and checks on the condition of safety signs.
In some cases when we carry out this work, we even have to climb to the tops of the towers to evaluate possible anomalies detected from the ground. We record the diagnoses in every inspection in a tablet that we use to gather all the data we collect on each section of the line.
Given the particularity of the cables, we have a very comprehensive team to perform these reviews. Whenever possible, we do our monitoring in 4WD vehicles and with teams consisting of two workers equipped with binoculars, a camera, a thermographic camera (to measure the cable temperature), a pole for measuring height, an earth resistance meter (to measure the current), the tablet and our technical manual for consultation purposes. In this case, we had to do much of the route on foot, as we ran into lots of difficulties in accessing the supports.
When doing this kind of work, it is important to realise how crucial it is in ensuring good quality of supply and avoiding faults that lead to interruptions in service. Most power lines are located in the countryside or in mountainous areas that are hard to access, and therefore it is recommended that the elements of each installation be inspected so that we can anticipate exceptions and avoid the occurrence of faults that affect our network.