San Diego Gas and Electric has become the first utility in the nation to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to test unmanned aircraft to check transmission lines.
The unmanned aircraft system SDG&E is using measures 16 inches in diameter and weighs less than a pound. The utility is currently experimenting with it to check rural power lines and patrol transmission towers in the rural east San Diego County.
“Our transmission towers … we often have to lease helicopters to patrol those lines. This can do that without the noise, without the emissions and also with cost savings,” said Hanan Eisenman, who is with SDG&E.