“We are integrating new technologies to expand our capabilities and operate more efficiently,” said Cris Eugster, Chief Operating Officer at CPS Energy. “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.”
“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,” said District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez. “CPS Energy continues to be a leader in Smart City technologies.”
CPS Energy piloted the use of drones to inspect transmission towers and associated high voltage lines in May of 2017. Through the pilot, they learned that drone inspections of 50 transmission line towers were completed in 2 ½ days. Normally, this work would have taken nearly two weeks to complete using conventional methods. The utility anticipates drones will be used to inspect equipment approaching its end of life as well as equipment damaged during severe weather.
Drones offer the flexibility of performing routine infrastructure inspections from a safe distance whenever challenging or unsafe access issues are present. Rough terrain, obstructions and even animals can slow the progress of obtaining critical information that helps the utility evaluate the performance of their equipment. During times of severe weather, drones can assess impacted areas and help provide information used to prioritize how the utility responds to widespread power outages.
Currently, CPS Energy has two drones in its inventory. The drone pilots must follow Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and ensure they are being mindful of customer privacy when conducting drone operations. CPS Energy is committed to providing advance notice to the community whenever planned drone flight inspections occur near their home or business.
For customers, the use of drones may keep them out of the dark as early detection of failing equipment can be repaired or replaced before they experience an unplanned power outage. The utility believes the use of drones will lead to work efficiency, increased productivity, accuracy improvements and enhanced customer service.
ABOUT CPS ENERGY
Established in 1860, CPS Energy is the nation’s largest public power, natural gas and electric company, providing safe, reliable, and competitively-priced service to 804,000 electric and 343,000 natural gas customers in San Antonio and portions of seven adjoining counties. Our customers’ combined energy bills rank among the lowest of the nation’s 20 largest cities – while generating $7 billion in revenue for the City of San Antonio for more than seven decades. As a trusted and strong Community partner, we continuously focus on job creation, economic development and educational investment. True to our People First philosophy, we are powered by our skilled workforce, whose commitment to the community is demonstrated through our employees’ volunteerism in giving back to our city and programs aimed at bringing value to our customers. CPS Energy is among the top public power wind energy buyers in the nation and number one in Texas for solar generation.