A helicopter in the distance near overhead power lines during a project installation.

New River Electrical’s Overhead Division Uses Helicopter for Team Safety

As crazy as it sounds, sometimes helicopters are the safer option.

Rising to the Challenge

This March, New River Electrical (NRE) completed a project in the Marietta Region of Ohio that presented a challenge to the Overhead team. This particular project called for the installation of a new single circuit 138kV lines across rough, freshly cleared terrain with no existing infrastructure to work with. While pulling this type of line between 5,000 and 10,000 feet in length is nothing out of the ordinary, it was the challenge of keeping our team safe in the face of a potentially dangerous job site that drove our choice to use a helicopter to complete the job. Looking back, it was by far the best option to reduce risk.

For this particular project, NRE worked with a subcontractor to make two, single circuit rope pulls. As an all-inclusive project, Project Engineer Andy Rieman was responsible for creating the execution plan to complete this task. His attention to detail and emphasis on safety helped the project succeed.

A helicopter is flying near newly installed utility poles in a field with existing high-voltage towers in the background.

When Safety Comes First, Productivity Follows

The decision to use the helicopter was meant to keep NRE’s skilled line workers out of harm’s way. The aerial install removed the need to pull out ropes manually, which can be a tedious task with an increased potential for slips, trips, and/or falls in unstable or rugged terrain. In addition, a task that typically takes several days was accomplished in about six hours.

“We spent a great deal of time planning every detail of this operation and it was executed flawlessly,” says Jacob Grice, Vice President of NRE’s Overhead division. “Both rope pulls were made safely without incident in a single afternoon. We mitigated risk and got the job done.”

While the long-term project is still ongoing with more helicopter pulls planned, this is just another example of the ingenuity and commitment to safety that New River Electrical’s employee owners demonstrate every day.

A silhouette of a helicopter flying above utility workers and poles with the sun shining brightly in the background.