Delmarva Power Using Helicopter and Infrared Technology to Inspect Regional Power Lines

Starting in September, Delmarva Power will inspect more than 2,000 miles of aerial transmission lines by helicopter and infrared camera in Delaware and Maryland. The aerial inspections are part of the company’s ongoing commitment to deliver safe and reliable service for its customers. Delmarva Power crews work year-round to proactively review the company’s system and make needed upgrades and improvements. These regular inspections allow the company to proactively locate and repair areas of the energy system, making the system less susceptible to damage during extreme weather and preventing outages for customers.

“Whether it’s a record heatwave, intense thunderstorm or major hurricane, inspections, such as these, help us ensure our systems and equipment are prepared to handle the extreme conditions we continue to see across our service area,” said Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power region president. “This work is essential to our operational success and making sure we can provide our customers the safe, reliable energy services they expect from us, no matter what.”

The helicopters conducting the aerial inspections will fly low at a moderate speed, completing comprehensive visual inspections of transmission lines and guy wire grounding, which is used to support utility poles and protect against potential issues. Helicopters provide a more efficient and safer option for this kind of work when access to structures on the ground is limited, while minimizing impacts to customers in the local area. The use of an infrared camera provides the team with a clear visual of potential areas of concern on the transmission line and other associated equipment. Following the inspections, Delmarva Power will complete any necessary upgrades and maintenance. 

Inspections are scheduled to take place in the Kent, New Castle and Sussex counties of Delaware. Counties in Maryland include Harford, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worchester. This work is not anticipated to impact energy service in the company’s service area.

This is just one example of how Delmarva Power continually works to help improve and strengthen service reliability, said Delmarva Power spokesman Timothy Stokes.

Other reliability work includes trimming trees that could potentially impact the system, building new substations, building new underground equipment, and installing stronger, tree-resistant aerial cable.

Stokes said the company also installs innovative technologies to improve system reliability, such as specialized equipment that can automatically restore service more quickly or isolate damage. These new technologies have been a main driver behind the continued drop in the number of outages customers experience.

In fact, Delmarva Power customers experienced the lowest frequency of electric outages ever in 2018, according to Stokes. The frequency of outages decreased from the previous low, set in 2017, by 8 percent. Over the past five years, ongoing investments in the local energy grid have driven a 34 percent decrease in the frequency of electric outages Delmarva Power customers have experienced. 

Stokes says Infrared technology helps Delmarva Power prevent outages for customers by identifying potential issues on the local energy grid, such as “hot spots” where equipment could be heating up and cause future issues. Helicopters are used to inspect more than 2,000 miles of aerial transmission lines in Delmarva Power’s service area.

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