Utility company to use drones to inspect infrastructure

Drones for inspecting Hawaiian Electric Co. utilities

[Editor’s Note: Hawaiian Electric Co. is using drones to inspect infrastructure, thereby improving service during outage response and disaster recovery.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2016/09/28/utility-company-to-use-drones-to-inspect.html.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is joining a growing number of U.S. utilities that are using drones to check their infrastructures.

At a news conference in Honolulu on Thursday, the state’s largest utility is scheduled to display its unmanned aircraft that are being used “to improve service to customers, especially in outage response and disaster recovery.”

Colton Ching, vice president of energy delivery for HECO, along with drone consultant and former Navy helicopter pilot Teena Deering and members of the Honolulu utility’s unmanned aircraft team are expected to answer questions about drone use.

Drones can quickly and in a cost-effective manner inspect utility equipment, especially in remote and difficult-to-reach areas. The machines increase employee safety and reduce the utility’s carbon footprint, according to HECO.

The machines have become increasingly popular among utility and energy companies. The Federal Aviation Administration instituted a rule in June that paved the way for more utilities to use drones.

Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc., whose $4.3 billion deal to buy HECO was rejected earlier this year by state regulators, received FAA approval to utilize drones. California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. also got FAA approval to use drones to check out its infrastructure.

Duane Shimogawa covers energy, commercial real estate and development for Pacific Business News.

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