Florida Keys Electric Cooperative linemen are dropped onto a utility pole on Indian Key Fill in Islamorada to replace insulators. NIKKI CULLEN/Florida Keys Electric Co-op

The Florida Keys Electric Cooperative contracted crews to conduct some maintenance work that required a helicopter and dropping linemen from the air onto high voltage transmission poles. Insulators were replaced on some 469 transmission poles from Marathon to Islamorada. Preventative repairs were done on 130 pole tops identified as needing maintenance during a systemwide inspection. To reach the pole tops, aerial crews either work from the helicopter or swing onto poles. To replace insulators on poles in water, linemen hang on a rope from the helicopter, which drops them onto the 80-foot or taller structures. Once the two-person team secures themselves to the pole, the pilot sets off to retrieve and deliver equipment and tools needed to replace the insulators, long-beveled looking apparatus that holds the conductor line to a pole. To do the job without interruption, the linemen work while the 138,000-volt transmission line remains energized. While working on live equipment, linemen energize themselves to the same potential as the electrical circuit, allowing them to sit like a bird on a wire.

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