Virginia-based utility Dominion Energy has joined the Small UAV Coalition as an associate member.
According to the coalition, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are a critical tool for the energy industry, enabling safer, more efficient routine inspections, as well as service restoration after major weather events. Dominion Energy has been using drones since early 2014 to augment its existing inspections. It has also partnered with the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership for the federal UAS Integration Pilot Program to test drone technology. The company also recently won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for expanded beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights.
“We are researching and developing new, innovative uses for drones to serve our customers,” says Nate Robie, UAS program manager for Dominion Energy. “Drone flights lead to safer and more environmentally friendly inspections of energy infrastructure. Joining the Small UAV Coalition will help us lend our voice to the growing chorus of companies looking to grow this important business solution.”
The coalition says Dominion Energy’s experience, particularly when it comes to BVLOS operations and flights near critical infrastructure, will enhance the group’s efforts as it continues to work with the FAA on forthcoming regulations to enable expanded commercial operations.