Unión Fenosa Distribución invests 7.5 million euros in 2018 on tree clearing and maintenance in Galicia

  • Electricity power line maintenance work is essential for guaranteeing safety conditions and optimal operation of electricity supply services.
  • 85% of the almost 60,000 kilometres of electricity power lines owned by the company in Galicia are overhead power lines and therefore significantly affected by tree foliage.

Unión Fenosa Distribución, the electricity distribution subsidiary of GAS NATURAL FENOSA, will invest a total of 7.54 million euros on selective tree felling and pruning and clearing operations in 2018 to guarantee optimal operation of electricity supply services. By province, Unión Fenosa Distribución will allocate 2.7 million to A Coruña, 1.7 million to Lugo, 1.6 million to Ourense and 1.4 million to the province of Pontevedra.

The purpose of this clearing work in power line easement areas is to guarantee the best safety conditions for the electricity supply infrastructure and to ensure the quality and accessibility of the grid, avoiding possible fires caused by the accumulation of foliage in areas near the distribution networks.

It should be noted that, under the Spanish Fires Act, the presence of fast-growing trees such as pine and eucalyptus can pose a wildfire propagation risk. In addition, the fall of these trees on electricity power lines—especially during storms with strong wind gusts—can cause supply interruptions.

Clearing work near the electricity distribution networks takes place according to a cyclical schedule based on the characteristics of the line and the type of nearby foliage. 85% of the 60,000 kilometres of electricity power lines owned by the company in Galicia are overhead power lines and therefore located in woodland areas or areas with vegetation.

The electricity distribution company has invested close on 55 million euros since 2010 on this sort of maintenance work on its high- and medium-voltage power lines in Galicia, which is carried out in all 285 municipalities of Galicia where the company has power lines. The investments made in recent years and the focusing of resources on maintenance activities have made a major contribution to the improvement of electricity quality of service indicators, especially in rural Galicia, and help efforts to prevent and defend against wildfires in the region.

Use of drones and thermography for power line maintenance

Unión Fenosa Distribución has incorporated the use of drones into its high-voltage electricity power line maintenance and supervision work, increasing inspection safety by reducing the number of inspections conduct by technicians at height.

The use of unmanned aircraft allows information to be captured from all angles and a focus to be placed on the power cables to examine the line corridor and its surrounding area, as well as to store data in visual and thermal format. Since their incorporation in 2015, drones have been flown over 1,350 kilometres to check over 90 circuits and almost 4,500 high-voltage support structures.