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MECO to use drone for line inspection

The Maui News

Maui Electric Co. will be using a drone and a helicopter for routine aerial power line inspections throughout Maui, the utility announced Tuesday.

Aerial inspections will run from Monday to Aug. 30, weather permitting, MECO said. The survey will use a remote light detection and ranging surveying instrument to draw updated maps of the island’s transmission lines and other electrical infrastructure.

Drones are being used as a cost-effective tool when accessing remote areas to increase employee safety and to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

“When appropriate, using drones are safer, less expensive, and faster than conventional assessments of our electrical equipment,” said Chris Reynolds, director of operational technology at Maui Electric. “We appreciate the public’s understanding during these routine aerial inspections of our equipment as they are necessary in maintaining safe and reliable electrical service to our communities.”

Helicopter and ground inspectors will be assessing electrical equipment in areas with air space regulations or limited functioning ranges for the drone operators.

Maui Electric used a drone in assessing power lines damaged in recent wild fires on the island. Drones also will be used as part of Maui Electric’s asset management program, allowing inspection and repair or replacement of equipment, resulting in better service.

The Maui Electric drone program is in full compliance with Federal Aviation Administration rules and has developed safety, training, operating and privacy procedures.