Posted in | Remote Monitoring

Using Drones to Inspect Transmission Towers and Associated High-Voltage Lines

With its focus on its commitment to offer customers with dependable electric service, currently, CPS Energy has been using drone technology to carry out regular, safer, and more efficient inspections of overhead infrastructure.

CPS Energy drone technology increases efficiencies and safety for workers (Image credit: CPS Energy)

We are integrating new technologies to expand our capabilities and operate more efficiently. Performing inspections with the use of drones helps maintain the safety of our employees and leads to faster inspections of our overhead infrastructure. This proactive effort helps us identify potential issues and mitigate future power outages.

Cris Eugster, Chief Operating Officer at CPS Energy

As chair of the City’s Innovation and Technology Committee, I am thrilled that CPS Energy is using this innovative, and efficient technology to conduct inspections. CPS Energy continues to be a leader in Smart City technologies.

Manny Pelaez, District 8 Councilman

The application of drones for the inspection of transmission towers and associated high-voltage lines was piloted by CPS Energy in May 2017. As part of the pilot, they came to know that it was possible to complete drone inspections of 50 transmission line towers in two and a half days. In general, almost two weeks would have been taken to finish this task with the help of traditional methods. The utility expects that drones will be applied for the inspection of equipment nearing its end of life and also equipment damaged due to adverse weather conditions.

Drones enable routine infrastructure inspections to be flexibly performed from a safe distance at times when unsafe or difficult access problems arise. Obstructions, rough terrain, and even animals can delay the progression of acquiring critical information that assists the utility in assessing the performance of their equipment. During adverse weather conditions, drones can evaluate affected areas and assist in providing information that is useful for prioritizing the way in which the utility responds to extensive power outages.

At present, CPS Energy has two drones in its inventory. The drone pilots have to adhere to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and make sure that they are cautious about customer privacy while performing the drone operations. CPS Energy is dedicated to providing prior notification to the community whenever scheduled drone flight inspections take place close to their home or business.

In the customer point of view, the application of drones will bring them out of the dark since early detection of equipment nearing its end can be repaired or replaced ahead of an unexpected power outage. The utility considers that the applications of drones will result in increased productivity, improvements in accuracy, higher work efficiency, and improved customer service.

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