Xcel Energy in 2019 plans to deploy an advanced distribution management system (ADMS), which automates grid operations, improves the speed and efficiency of response to variations in customer power usage, and facilitates analyses of and planning for customers’ future energy use. But information needed from substation equipment — including nameplate data from circuit switchers, transformers, switches and breakers — for the ADMS can be time-consuming and expensive to gather.
To overcome these challenges, Xcel Energy has brought unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to the rescue. Following are images of one of Xcel's substations from the perspective of the drone, first featured in a feature article in the June 2018 issue of T&D World. The article goes more in-depth into the special situations, challenges and benefits of using UAS to gather substation information.