Jackson Citizen Patriot: Consumers Energy debuts new drone technology to monitor utility lines

JACKSON, MI – Drones aren't just for military use any longer.

Consumers Energy launched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Cement City to inspect utility poles and help determine whether the emerging technology can improve customer service, utility reps said Monday, June 22.

The remote controlled UAV can transport a 14-pound payload and can be used to inspect utility lines and take thermal and regular video images, Consumers Energy rep Andrew Bordine said.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Michigan, was on hand during the launch event Monday morning, and said Consumers Energy has the opportunity "to be a big leader" in the use of UAVs for utility line work and review.

"The technology can ultimately mean lower costs for Consumers and then lower rates for people," he said. "Now it's a balancing act between the tremendous potential of this technology and privacy and safety concerns."

Peters serves on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration.

By:  Will Forgrave