Drones helping Georgia Power keep the power on

Electricity is a necessity easily taken for granted until the power goes out. Many felt it firsthand Monday as strong storms blew through the area. But Georgia Power won’t let Mother Nature take all the blame.

FOX 5 Storm Team Meteorologist Jonathan Stacey got an up-close look at how far and how high the state’s largest utility goes to keep the power on before, during, and after a storm.

A power grid, in many ways, is like a human body. The power station is the heart, the high-voltage lines are the arteries, and the substation works like the organs. And just like a body, every now and again, it needs a good check-up.

This year, Georgia Power has literally taken this dangerous and demanding job to new heights using drones.

"We are looking for damaged insulators, we’re looking for damaged conductors, we’re looking for rust on certain components," said Travis Watts, project manager for Georgia Power transmissions.

Watts spent the past three years developing the first generation of this project.

"Our transmission system is a very complex system, so you really need to stay on top of all the different components," Watts said.

Simply put, the fewer the issues, the fewer the outages, the lower the costs when the power grid has a clean bill of health.

Every six years, every structure on the system in the state is visited. That’s roughly 15,000 inspections a year.

"The traditional way of doing these inspections was to bring a whole crew out and hire a helicopter contractor to come out in doing these inspections," said Watts.

Now, these inspections are faster, cheaper, and safer, with two eyes on the ground, and a higher eye in the sky.

Georgia Power says the deployment of the new drones will also cut down power restoration times in the minutes and hours after bad weather strikes.