Drones pull the ropes

An unmanned aircraft system (UAS)—or drone—was needed to safely complete recent work on a transmission line project led by Great River Energy for one of its member-owner cooperatives.

Drone footage shows the vegetative wetland that required Great River Energy to use the technology to complete part of a transmission line project.

A portion of the Elisha to Pine Point project required crossing Hay Creek near Park Rapids, Minnesota. This vegetative wetland is hard to travel by foot and using a boat is nearly impossible and potentially dangerous.

Great River Energy’s construction team sought support from the UAS program to help with safety and to minimize environmental impact. The team used the Great River Energy’s largest drone to pull a “light” lead line approximately 1,400 feet from a matting area on the south side of the creek to one on the north side. The matting areas protect the wetland from construction activities.

The drone was outfitted with a release mechanism that allowed a rope to be released directly over the matting area.

Once the drone landed, the construction crew used the light lead line to pull the full-strength lead-line, string it through pulling blocks and ultimately complete the stringing.

“Helping construction crews this way reduces the risks associated with stringing the wire with bucket trucks and minimizes environmental impact,” said Kyle Gustofson, Great River Energy’s transmission UAS program manager.

The project is under construction in Becker and Hubbard counties to support Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electrical Association’s system by improving reliability.