AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Xcel Energy has begun a safety partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to continue their use of drones. They are using the technology to inspect power lines and substations throughout their coverage area including here in Amarillo.
This is a first of its kind partnership between Xcel Energy and the FAA. The partnership is to research the safe operation of drone technology to inspect infrastructure such as high-voltage transmission lines.
Xcel Energy has already used drones in Texas and New Mexico to inspect substations and power lines. In 2016 the company used a drone to inspect behind the operating lines to see the transmissions lines north of Amarillo.
This technology will continue to help residents save money and will help the company survey lines after severe weather.
"We have a lot of bad weather in this area," says Wes Reeves, Spokesman for Xcel Energy. "One thing we might be able to use drown technology for is to go in and inspect the system before we can actually move men and equipment in. This helps us better coordinate responses and we can move a lot faster."
(Video source: Xcel Energy)
Last year the company began researching the use of drones in North Dakota. They used the technology to survey storm damage throughout the state. That research helped develop the partnership with the FAA.
The goals of the "Partnership for Safety Plan," is to shape future FAA policies for safe and routine beyond visual-line-of-sight operations to inspect the electrical grid.
This year the company is planning on at least one beyond the line-of-sight mission using the drone along transmission lines in a rural area.