UKIAH, 4/6/22 — The City of Ukiah is beginning a new program to inspect utilities by drone this month, in order to better repair and maintain the city-owned electrical infrastructure. The drone inspections will cover distribution and transmission lines as well as substation equipment, and are planned to last through October of this year, then resume annually.
The flights will use an “infrared thermal camera to detect hot spots and loose connections,” city employee Cindy Sauers explained, and the photos will be used by Electric Utility Department to examine electric infrastructure and not for any other purpose. The equipment was purchased in 2020 and cost the city $24,560. The city’s Public Works Department also uses a drone to document progress on specific projects, Sauers noted.
Drone inspections may need to take place on private property, but if repairs are needed, the city will schedule the work with property owners, according to the program announcement, which you can find included below:
Ukiah, CA. March 15, 2022. – The City of Ukiah Electric Utility is excited to announce the newest addition to the Utility’s Overhead Line Inspection Program—drone technology. Electric Utility Staff will begin using drones to examine the city’s distribution lines, transmission lines and substation equipment across the City’s service territory to find and fix potential issues that could result in unplanned outages.
Scheduled inspections will begin in April and continue until October between the hours of 8:00a.m. and 4:00p.m. This is an ongoing program and will be continued on a yearly basis.
Periodic inspection of electric infrastructure ensures continued monitoring of equipment and vegetation to prevent unplanned outages. Drones allow personnel to get an up-close look at the lines, connections and equipment to detect potential hazards. Although drones may need to be flown over some public and private properties, any images collected during these inspections will only be used by City of Ukiah Electric Utility staff to evaluate the condition of the electrical infrastructure. If repairs are required on power lines located on private property, City Utility Staff will schedule work with the property owner.
Residents may see certified Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) pilots conducting aerial inspections of electric equipment throughout the city. Please do not disturb personnel while they are conducting the inspections.
Inspections are documented through high-resolution pictures, which are reviewed by system maintenance and engineering staff. Any issues found through these inspections will be repaired promptly with the highest-priority first and the rest will be scheduled as part of our on-going work plan.
Further questions regarding the Electric System Inspections Program may be directed to Diann Lucchetti, Program Coordinator at 707-467-5711 or at [email protected].