Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently published “An Early Survey of Best Practices for the Use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems by the Electric Utility Industry.” Known as sUAS, and interchangeable with the terms drones and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), sUAS have the potential to conduct efficient and safe electric infrastructure inspections, effectively detect problems with electric equipment, access equipment in difficult terrain, and provide direct support for electric utility vegetation management. ORNL’s survey of best practices is focused on safety and mitigating risk. It serves to inform electric utilities’ strategy and operations in the areas of mission planning and execution, contracting for sUAS services, and development of in-house capability.
Drones are becoming more prevalent in electric utility operations. While drones have the potential to reduce operating costs, utilities face a significant number of considerations to ensure they have safe and compliant operations that also achieve desired operational and cost benefits. ORNL’s collection of best practices provides timely insight to assist utilities in identifying the key considerations when evaluating the use sUAS and their application for electric utility work.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory: An Early Survey of Best Practices for the Use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems by the Electric Utility Industry
Federal Aviation Administration: Fact Sheet – Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (Part 107)
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD): SMUD using drone technology to patrol high-voltage lines
Austin Energy: Austin Energy using drones to inspect transmission lines
Nashville Electric Service: Students Use Drones to Help NES Electric Crews
Ontario Power Generation: Inspectors zoom in for a closer look
This report is part of the Public Power Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.
Additional Contributing Authors: Sriram Krishnan
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