Everything you need to know about CoServ’s drone program

The drone’s infrared camera shows hot spots glowing white, which could potentially cause an outage. Photo by TY FLEMMING
The drone’s infrared camera shows hot spots glowing white, which could potentially cause an outage. Photo by TY FLEMMING

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane.

No, it’s a CoServ drone inspecting the power lines and making your electric service more reliable.

Inspecting CoServ’s more than 2,800 miles of overhead line is a full-time job. In 2021, CoServ’s drone program identified more than 400 issues that were repaired proactively before they could cause a power outage.

“If I find a problem, we can get ahead of it, report it and CoServ’s Operations department schedules a linemen crew to come fix it,” said Ty Flemming, a Power Quality Technician with CoServ.

It’s programs like this that make CoServ one of the most reliable utilities in Texas as reflected in our System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) score of 34.23. That means that on average, a Member was without power for about 34 minutes in 2021.

The high-definition camera can find problems such as scorch marks on an insulator, a loose tie, or broken cross arms. It can also help find mapping errors and misidentified circuits, both of which pose a safety risk to our linemen crews. In addition, CoServ’s drones are also equipped with infrared to look for overheated equipment or lines.

All of this work is to help ensure that we maintain safe and reliable service for our Members and stop outages before they occur.


Why does CoServ use a drone rather than having linemen inspect poles?

Drones can cover several miles of line in an 8-hour day versus what a lineman is able to do. With over 2,800 miles of overhead electrical line, using a drone allows CoServ to identify issues before they become major problems, like an outage.

What about my privacy?

The security and privacy of our Members are of the utmost importance to CoServ, all our drone flights follow a predetermined flight path along our easements. The drone camera will only be focused on CoServ’s equipment, utility poles, and power lines. Unless someone is standing directly under the poles or lines, our drones cannot see you.

Who is operating the drone?

Our drones are flown by CoServ Employees who are highly trained, FAA licensed Power Quality Technicians. Our technicians examine the high-definition footage in real-time to find problems before outages occur.

Will I be notified if the drone is in my area?

No. Due to the nature of the work, our Power Quality Technicians and drones can move to several locations throughout our service territory as needed fairly quickly, and as such, makes early notifications difficult. If you see a drone in your area, look for clearly marked CoServ vehicles nearby.