EEI > Delivering The Future
OG&E Takes to the Air to Keep Customers Safe
April 2017

​Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) is taking its commitment to customer service to even greater heights by using drones and advanced planning methods to reduce the time it takes to restore power in the wake of a storm or other major event.

Before crews can restore service to customers, they must first assess the damage. Traditionally, damage assessment crews would have to survey affected areas on foot or in crewed aircraft to determine how severe the impact of the weather or other event was and what might be required to repair the damage to the energy grid. This is often a time-consuming, and sometimes dangerous, process.

"We used drones for the first time to assess damage in the Woodward area following Winter Storm Jupiter in January," OG&E spokeswoman Kathleen O'Shea told the Shawnee News-Star. "In the past, we've used helicopters, and we'll still use them as necessary, however, drones can be deployed faster than helicopters in most scenarios. We estimate that we shaved off approximately a half day of assessment time by using drones."

The electric company is also making use of advanced planning methods to further reduce the time it takes to get the power back on. By combining advanced weather modeling and forecasting with an in-depth knowledge of local conditions, OG&E is learning how to best pre-position crews and material before a storm strikes. OG&E crews were able to use these techniques to pre-stage 1,270 workers before January’s Winter Storm Jupiter—a move that company experts say may have reduced the outage duration by as much as 50 percent!

Electric companies like OG&E are actively working with each other, government agencies, and the Edison Electric Institute to develop innovative new ways to deliver the value that their customers expect. In coming years, electric companies may use drones more frequently and in a greater variety of roles, including for the routine inspection of energy infrastructure that delivers the safe reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy that powers America.