Dominion Energy is a power and energy company that operates in 16 states and maintains over 6,600 miles of overhead electric transmission lines in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. But Dominion, like most utilities, wanted to improve their operations through better data, safer processes, and more environmentally-friendly practices.
Here’s how Dominion Energy improved all three metrics by partnering with PrecisionHawk.
THE initial challenges:
Accurate Data: Helicopter teams are limited in how close they can get to structures and what camera angles they can provide. Ground teams and lineworkers may have trouble accessing the areas they need to inspect.
Safety: Helicopter missions can be dangerous; pilots need to maneuver their helicopters without colliding with hard-to-see lines or transmission towers. Ground crews and lineworkers can face dangerous conditions like swampy areas and downed electric lines.
Environmental Protection: Aviation emissions contain nitrogen oxides (a family of poisonous, highly reactive gases) and particulate matter (microscopic solids or liquid droplets in the air that can affect health).
“What we wanted to do was, at a minimum, recreate the CVI inspections that we did with a helicopter so that we weren't losing anything,” says Steve Eisenrauch, Manager of Electric Distribution Contractor Resource Management. “That was our baseline. And then we wanted to see if there was anything additional we could get.”
The Data Value Chain
A data value chain is the process of creating and using data, from first identifying a need to the final use (and possible reuse) of the data.
The exact links in the chain depend on the application. PrecisionHawk’s data value chain, created just for utilities, is:
- Report & Integrate
- Take Action
Thanks to this data value chain, PrecisionHawk’s drone- and data-based solution is purpose-built for a utility’s entire data lifecycle.
Accurate Data: PrecisionHawk ended up finding 42% more AOCs such as cotter keys backing out and flashing on insulators.
Safety: In 2019, Dominion set a new safety record—an injury rate of just 0.62.
Environmental Protection: Dominion estimates that their drone use saves approximately 500 flight hours equaling a savings of roughly 2,000 gallons of jet fuel burned.
“The additional detail has been a bonus for us,” says Eisenrauch. “Our goal was to at least be able to duplicate what a helicopter does—and then there were the other benefits around using a drone in place of a helicopter: it's less intrusive to our customers, there's a better environmental footprint, it’s potentially safer, and it was nice to get the additional angles and able to pick up on additional defects.”
Utilities no longer need to deal with slow ground-based inspections or dangerous, polluting helicopters. Now, drone-based data collection and end-to-end data services can help utilities boost safety, accuracy, environmental protection, and customer satisfaction.
Download the full Dominion Energy Case Study, to learn how we helped Dominion enrich their data and empower action.