PG&E is Using a Helicopter Saw to Prune Humboldt’s Hard-to-Reach Trees

This is a press release from Pacific Gas and Electric Company:

EUREKA, Calif.  — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) [started flying] a helicopter saw along four electric transmission lines that span from Humboldt to Trinity Counties to improve electric reliability [on] Friday, December 8. A helicopter saw, or heli-saw, is a series of circular saws suspended from a high-performance helicopter used to trim the tops and sides of trees. PG&E uses the heli-saw in remote areas to maintain safe and reliable service to its customers in Humboldt County.

Unlike trees growing in dense forests, trees growing along transmission line corridors tend to grow more and longer branches because there is more sunlight. In addition to the risk from the growth, these limbs collect snow and can pull the tree over in the direction of the line during storm events. PG&E [has been pruning] the limbs to prevent future power outages and to increase public safety. A helicopter saw is a safe, efficient way to prune trees in remote areas where snow and muddy roads make accessing power lines challenging.

The four transmission lines run through remote areas East of Eureka. Work will occur between Kneeland Road in Humboldt County and Big Bar in Trinity County. Property owners along the 42 miles where the pruning will take place have been notified in advance.

This targeted reliability project is one part of PG&E’s robust vegetation management program in which the energy company prunes or removes approximately 1.4 million trees annually. PG&E’s 70,000 square-mile service area includes approximately 123 million trees with potential to grow or fall into overhead power lines.

PG&E inspects and monitors every overhead electric transmission and distribution line each year, with some locations patrolled multiple times (18,000 transmission miles plus 81,000 distribution miles is about 100,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines).

Before the heli-saw, a small helicopter (four-passenger A Star) will conduct an initial fly-over of the transmission lines to review terrain, pruning areas, roads, creeks, and other general avoidance areas. The heli-saw will fly 7 days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Work is expected to be complete within the next three weeks.



  • poor fuckin tree’s

  • Instead of using a small helicopter (four-passenger A Star), for initial flyover, perhaps they should use a drone? Seems drones are much cheaper, and might result in a savings they could use to pay for the fires they have been responsible for recently. Plus they wouldn’t have to ask Sacramento to raise rates, as they are now doing.

  • >” perhaps they should use a drone? Seems drones are much cheaper”

    Good idea… but drones don’t stay up in the air very long (well, civilian ones anyway)…
    the battery runs out in a few minutes.

    You’d probably need to follow the power lines in a 4wd or ATV and have a re-charger and lotsa’ drone
    batteries on board. Could probably do it, but it would likely take weeks to accomplish the job.

    I think in the future… PG&E will have ‘robotic’ (i.e. self-nav) drones that follow the power lines on a regular basis.

    • Ive watched videos of testing drones and the main issue is the kickback force from the saw makes the cutting ability very difficult

  • Helicopter circling in the bridgevill area with out a saw on it

    • There was a dark green one this morning and then a white one again this after noon in Rio Dell,with no saws.the white one this after noon flow right down main street and back and forth over DJs a few times it was really low then headed tords blue slide way.very odd,green one went up the river.

  • That’s one hela saw!

  • James Bond villan stuff,

  • Looks scary just dangling there.yikes what a buzz

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