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Oct 22, 2019 | Reliability | 8 comments

Drones assisting in power line inspections

Monitoring tens of thousands of miles of power lines is important to keeping the lights on, and PPL Electric Utilities is increasing its use of drones to make that process more effective and efficient.

We recently began using drones to patrol the lower-voltage distribution lines that are typically found along neighborhood roads. It’s an expansion of our use of drones to help patrol transmission lines, the larger and taller high-voltage lines and poles that carry electricity over long distances.

Having certified pilots operate drones along our lines helps improve reliability because we can spot potential issues before they cause an outage. Drones can capture images of lines and related equipment, like transformers, and they’re capable of thermal imaging to spot hotspots that can signal problems. Drones also use a tool that measures the distance from trees to power lines. This helps us know when we should trim trees to potentially prevent an outage.

Before drones patrol a distribution line, customers along the line receive an automated phone call to let them know about the upcoming work. The drones focus only on lines and related equipment, not on surrounding areas. We only fly drones on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and never at night, or on weekends or holidays.

Drones give us a much closer and detailed look at power lines, a view not available to a PPL worker on the ground or even a helicopter. Plus, they improve safety by reducing the time that workers are in areas close to live power lines.

We know spotting a drone over a power line near your home might cause you to do a double take. We’re committed to using this equipment responsibly to improve reliability and increase efficiency, so we can keep your electric rates reasonable.


  1. Cheryl Fontaine

    Hey, that is very cool! Thank you!

  2. Grant

    While using the drones to inspect overhead power lines/equipment, are technicians looking at a live feed only, or are they recording as well?

  3. John Davis

    This is great!
    I do have a concern with labeling the lines – sometimes there are multiple labels on the line and they are small, worn out. Perhaps this can be improved.
    Also, I called about a line on North Wales Road in Lansdale Pennsylvania last year that is falling over and cracked. When will this be repaired?

    • Bonnie

      Yea really, there is a huge dead tree that fell on the wires on 183 @ summit station, 3 years ago. Drones must of missed that one

      • Alecia

        Good Morning, please call us at 1-800-342-5775 to report this. Thank you!

  4. Diane

    Do u have a schedule for drone inspections? I’d like to watch live.

  5. Rita Crist

    We sure could have used your drone on mountain road fishing creek township to assess the issue we’ve been having here for a few yrs now.
    As of 530 pm this evening we are without power due to the unresolved issue.

    • Kathryn

      Good Morning RIta, We understand your frustration when you are without power. When these power interruptions occur, please call us to complete a report at 1-800-342-5775 (available 24/7) and say, “Service Interruption.” The Representative will take the proper information to issue an investigation. We want to have record of when they are occurring so we can ultimately resolve them. Thanks!


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