Tornado-damaged electric lines restrung at Zimmer Power Plant

Duke Energy's Moscow facility hit March 2nd

MOSCOW, Ohio - Imagine threading the eye of a needle using a helicopter.

That's basically what crews from The Hydaker-Wheatlake Company did Friday at the Zimmer Power Plant in Moscow.

The sound of a helicopter's blades roared through the Clermont County air as the dangerous and difficult job of restringing electric transmission lines began between Ohio and Kentucky.

"Any time you're dealing with a helicopter, it's very tricky and it's very precise," said Project Manager Bret Wheatlake.

Four cables came crashing to the ground and into the Ohio River on March 2 when a tornado roared through Peach Grove and California, Ky. and across the river into Moscow. Six steel towers supporting them were either

The towers were rebuilt or repaired over the past month allowing the cable replacement work to begin.

Just before 10 a.m., two workers climbed a 305 foot tower to help insert ropes into pulleys dangling from the arms of the transmission towers.

A short time later, the helicopter lifted off twice to deliver ladders that were attached to those same arms for the workers to climb up and down.

Then, a one-inch diameter rope was pulled into the air, threaded through the pulleys and the helicopter slowly pulled it 2,800 feet across the river to towers on the Kentucky side. The process was repeated four times. It was risky business.

"The utility industry itself is a very dangerous industry," said Wheatlake. "One mistake and you can be killed or maimed."

Wheatlake said that's why the company has an aggressive safety program and relies on employees who have years of experience with utility work.

On Saturday, crews will use the ropes to begin pulling the two-and-a-half inch diameter electric transmission cable over the river. All four lines should be restrung by early next week.

Duke Energy Spokesperson Sally Thelen said re-energizing the lines should be completed by mid-June.

The cost of the work has been finalized yet, but Thelen said it's hoped that insurance covering the Zimmer Plant will pay for the Ohio costs and a repair fund in Kentucky will be enough to handle expenses in the Commonwealth.

If either of those plans doesn't work, ratepayers may be asked to help shoulder the burden.

Print this article Back to Top