PPL to use drones to inspect power lines

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – PPL has received permission from the FAA to use drones to inspect more than 50,000 miles of power lines in its 29-county service area in central and eastern Pennsylvania.

The company has three drones that will help them spot potential problems by sending back real-time video and snapping photographs.

“They provide a great view,” PPL spokesman Joe Nixon said. “We can see all the connections, nuts, bolts, wooden poles and we can check for any damage. The drones are GPS enabled so we are able to keep them steady and take them back to the same spot repeatedly if we want to keep checking on a certain pole or a particular issue.”

The drones can be operated only by licensed pilots who must follow strict guidelines. Some inspections could be near homes, but PPL says its cameras will point only at the power lines.

“The sole focus is on the lines and the equipment on those lines. They are not going to be used in any way that would cause a privacy concern,” Nixon said.

Nixon said the drones will not replace helicopter inspections and other ways PPL checks power lines.

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