(ATLANTA, May 7, 2015) — As one of the first U.S. utilities to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to pilot unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the Southern Company system is seeking innovative ways to more safely and efficiently meet customers’ energy needs using this emerging technology.
Under the FAA exemption granted to subsidiary Southern Company Services, the company is permitted to investigate the applicability of UAS for assessing weather-related damage to power lines and for routine inspections.
Among their potential benefits, UAS could help utilities reduce the duration of storm-related outages, perform power line inspections more safely, lower operating and maintenance costs and reduce environmental impacts. For example, with utility infrastructure that includes more than 27,000 miles of transmission lines across 120,000 square miles in the Southeast, UAS could provide the Southern Company system a quicker and more detailed assessment of areas and infrastructure impacted by severe weather.
“Families across the Southeast depend on us to quickly and safely get the lights back on after major storms,” said Southern Company Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kimberly S. Greene. “Our innovative approach to exploring the use of unmanned aerial systems in damage assessment could speed the process of restoring power to affected communities – further delivering on our commitment to the customers our utilities serve.”
The company will conduct initial UAS research operations at subsidiary Georgia Power’s Klondike Training Facility in Lithonia, Georgia, and, following research operations, may deploy the technology across the Southern Company system.
With more than 4.5 million customers and approximately 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications.
Southern Company brands are known for energy innovation, excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are leading the nation’s nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and are demonstrating their commitment to energy innovation through the development of a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant.
Southern Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, listed by DiversityInc as a top company for Blacks and designated a 2014 Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company received the Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Electric Light & Power magazine’s Utility of the Year for 2012 and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune’s annual World‘s Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.
For further information: Southern Company Media Relations, 404-506-5333 or 866-506-5333, www.southerncompany.com