Fortnightly Top Innovators 2018
Kent Larson is President – Group Operations and Executive VP, Xcel Energy.
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and President of Lines Up, Inc.
PUF: What about the drone initiative?
Kent Larson: We started this initiative more than five years ago. It was just a concept and I asked the group to put together a cross-functional team including generation, transmission, distribution, and gas. We wanted to use drone technology across the eight states we serve.
There is a tremendous opportunity with the terrain we have. We've got the mountains of Colorado, and the plains. In Texas, we have an entirely different landscape. So we're dealing with very diverse geography.
We have over three hundred thousand miles of electric and gas lines. With that much territory to cover, the ability to go beyond visual line of sight is important for us, so we don't have to keep moving a person from spot to spot.
We know customers expect great service, and great reliability. They expect us to improve efficiency and we're committed to both public and employee safety. Technology is a key enabler for all of this. Drones can play a significant role going forward. Flying beyond the visual line of sight gives us the ability to efficiently inspect our eighteen thousand miles of transmission lines.