APS uses drones to help keep the power on

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Arizona Public Service is using drones to help them prevent power outages. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona Public Service is using drones to help them prevent power outages. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The drones are equipped with high resolution and infrared cameras that can see what crews can't. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The drones are equipped with high resolution and infrared cameras that can see what crews can't. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The aerial linemen are also keeping crews out of danger. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The aerial linemen are also keeping crews out of danger. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The drones also free up crews, by increasing efficiency. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The drones also free up crews, by increasing efficiency. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

From prepping utility poles to hoisting equipment and stringing wire, it takes a lot of manpower to keep the electricity flowing to Arizona homes. But now, the men and women who keep the grid going at Arizona Public Service have added something new: air power.

“This is another tool in our tool bag, to take some of that manual labor out of the equation,” says Scott Bordenkircher, director of Technology Innovation and Integration at Arizona Public Service.

He is talking about a fleet of drones the utility company has added to its arsenal. The drones are equipped with high resolution and infrared cameras that can see what crews can't.  

[RELATED: Mesa Fire & Medical first in Phoenix area to use drones on emergency calls]

“So, we can actually see hotspots in our equipment, which means that equipment may be approaching a failure. So, if we can find that in that manner, we can get crews out there and replace that equipment, fix that equipment before we ever have an outage for our customers,” Bordenkircher said.

The aerial linemen are also keeping crews out of danger.

"Our crews encounter a variety of risks when they are out in the field, all the way from highly forested areas to rocks, things they can’t see as well as the risks of climbing tall equipment," Bordenkircher explained. "So, what the drone allows us to do is stay on the ground stay where it is safe, do those inspections where there is no need to increase that risk."

[RELATED: Drones helping map out Arizona mines (Dec. 16, 2016)]

Bordenkircher says outside and in, they are reducing risks.

“We are actually inspecting the inside of a generator boiler, again a very dangerous situation to have a person in a tight spot. (It) takes lots of rigging and equipment and scaffolding. I can put a drone in that same spot, zero in on where my problems are and then only incur that risk when I have to, to repair the problem," he said.

They also free up crews, by increasing efficiency.

 “So this allows us to inspect a good sized, many, many acre solar plants in a day, that might take weeks for a person to do inspections on,” Bordenkircher said.

And in the end, APS says that has also given them the power to save money for you.

According to Bordenkircher, “In the three years we have been running the drone program, we have saved over a million dollars for our customers."

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