OPPD using drone to keep workers safer

    OPPD using drone to keep workers safer

    Drones are becoming ever so popular and now even OPPD is getting in on the unmanned aircraft.

    The power company got its first drone last month and it will be using it to help keep workers safer.

    OPPD workers have over 1,200 miles of power lines they have to inspect and they do this twice a year in a helicopter. It’s a job that makes for a lot of hours up in the air and puts them in situations that could be dangerous.

    Mark Gorseth knows this all too well. He's been a line maintenance technician for more than 30 years.

    Gorseth said, "We're up in the air. It's not a safe environment to be in."

    However, with OPPD's newest tool Gorseth and other technicians can now breathe a little easier.

    Gorseth said, "By using the drone we'll be able to utilize and see everything and more, and still be on the ground and be safe while we're doing it."

    That’s not the only thing. Gorseth says workers will also be able to inspect and fix power lines a lot faster.

    “Compared to what we've done in the past we do have to wait for a helicopter which is a contractor, and fly and then wait till they get here before we can deploy."

    However, now that they have a drone, workers can deploy it anytime they need to. They say when it's up in the air information and video of power lines is sent back to a technician on the ground.

    Maintenance Optimization Engineer Patrick Hutchinson said, "We'll be able to fly the lines and go out and fly around a structure, hover a structure and gather more detail."

    As Hutchinson says on how to fix broken power lines that can affect lots of people.

    Gorseth said, "Say there's a storm that comes through and we got a portion of line down...we can get out there, find it, at least get that section of line isolated so we can get power back as quickly as possible."

    OPPD workers say the drone isn't replacing helicopters. They say they'll still use choppers when needed. They say, so far, OPPD workers have only used the drone for training.

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