SHAWNEE, Kan. — Evergy is unveiling new technology to get the lights back on quicker after bad storms hit the Kansas City metro.
The utility company is taking equipment assessment to new heights. Crews are now using drones to make the job safer and get your power back faster.
“Taking off,” Senior Drone Coordinator Mike Kelly said at the control of a drone.
“We have a high-powered zoom camera to do visual inspections,” Kelly said, “and then we also have a thermal camera to where we can detect hot spots — things that the human eye can’t see.”
Known as the Swiss Army Knife of drones, it hovers about 100 feet above power lines and equipment. The drone’s camera provides a clear picture on Kelly’s controller, recording everything down to the nuts and bolts.
“View what the drone is seeing in real time,” Kelly said.
This technology is a real game-changer during severe weather season.
“If we have a big storm roll through, we can use these as a tool to go out and inspect damage a lot quicker, which in turn gets repairs done a lot quicker,” Kelly said.
Traditionally, the power company would send a manned aviation crew inside the gate.
Instead, it take about 5 minutes to pull the drone off the truck, put it in the air and spot the problem.
“That’s a huge improvement,” Kelly said.
The footage is sent back to crews picking materials. They take supplies out to the field and make the fix at record speed. All this so that your food doesn’t spoil and the A/C or heat kicks back on.
“Well, that sounds amazing,” Susan Reinertson said, “for me and the whole community to be able to have such a speedy recovery when things like that happen.”
Kelly said it’s not just about quick reaction. Drones also offer predictive maintenance — spotting and repairing issue before the power goes out.
“We continue to find new uses for them every day,” Kelly said.
They do ground mapping to design better lines and fly inside power plants.
“We have ones with cages around them. We can fly, look at equipment, not send people into confined spaces, a potentially very dangerous area,” Kelly said.
Next time there’s a storm, don’t be surprised if you see one of the drones flying in to save the day.