MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Xcel Energy says it has approval from federal regulators to use drones to inspect more than 320,000 miles of electric and natural gas infrastructure.
The Federal Aviation Administration says Xcel can use the small unmanned aircraft systems to visually inspect electric transmission and distribution lines, power plants, renewable energy facilities, substations and pipelines.READ MORE: 47-Year-Old Woman Shot In Head In St. Paul
Xcel executive vice president Kent Larson says utility employees will also use drones to minimize the impact of trucks, helicopters and other utility equipment on environmentally sensitive areas. Larson says the drones will keep workers out of danger, improve emergency response times and reduce customer costs.READ MORE: MN Weather: Over 6 Inches Of Snow Possible In Northern MN This Weekend
The utility says the company’s current plan is to use drones only over utility property and away from populated areas and airports.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Over 6 Inches Of Snow Possible In Northern MN This Weekend, Cold Temps To Follow
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