Drone inspections on Aurora Energy network in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes

12 Sep 2018

Drones are being used for the first time on Aurora Energy’s electricity network in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes to carry out visual inspections of its overhead power lines and pole-top equipment.

Drone inspections, which started last month in Dunedin, will focus on the network in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes during September at selected locations in the Alexandra, Roxburgh, Queenstown and Frankton areas.

The inspections are part of the independent review that Aurora Energy has commissioned to gain a comprehensive assessment of the current status of the network that can be shared and understood by all of our stakeholders.

Aurora Energy General Manager Asset Management and Planning Glenn Coates said: “The independent reviewer, WSP, will use drones to visually inspect the condition of overhead power lines and pole-top equipment at a sample of sites in Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes and Dunedin. WSP will use the information to assess the physical condition of those assets and compare it against the recorded asset condition.

“The work will involve a drone flying above and adjacent to the line at low levels at selected sites mostly located on public roads. All flying will be done with the drone in line of sight, on weekdays and during daylight hours.

“Aurora Energy understands there are privacy concerns around the use of drones and can assure the community that the drone operators will follow all the rules set down by the relevant regulatory organisations. The drone operators are qualified and work to Civil Aviation Authority requirements and will adhere to all local Council requirements. Any asset images gathered by the drones are stored securely and used for network management purposes only.

“Using drones has some potential advantages over existing techniques, particularly where we need to access equipment in difficult or remote terrain. Much quieter than a helicopter, drones cause less disruption and noise for those living and working nearby and can be operated from the ground, at a safe distance from live lines.