Xcel Energy is the First U.S. Utility to Operate Drones beyond Line of Sight for Ongoing Inspections

Company completes a new milestone for unmanned aircraft in Colorado

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#corporateresponsibility–In one of the most significant advancements of unmanned aircraft under
development by a U.S. utility, Xcel Energy is operating drones
beyond visual line of sight during ongoing inspections of transmission
lines near Denver.

“Today’s flight takes us a step closer to fully integrating unmanned
aircraft into our operations,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and
CEO, Xcel Energy. “This innovative technology is revolutionizing our
work by improving the safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness of
maintaining and protecting the grid for our customers.”

Xcel Energy joins local, state and federal officials today in
celebrating the milestone flights and watching the drone as it inspects
electric power lines near Ft. St. Vrain Generating Station in
Platteville, Colorado. Using advanced command-and-control technology,
licensed pilots are remotely operating a small, 35-pound drone. Equipped
with two cameras, the drone is collecting data on the condition of power
lines and transmission towers with flights along a 50-mile route.

“Leading the development of unmanned aircraft builds on our longstanding
commitment to safety for our workers, the public and the environment.
This is especially important in Colorado where inspecting power lines in
the mountains and remote locations is challenging work,” said David
Eves, executive vice president, group president-utilities, Xcel Energy.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in an unprecedented decision
for the utility industry, granted Xcel Energy special permission to
conduct the beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights under a waiver,
announced earlier this year. The waiver allows the company to
commercially operate a drone without visual observers or a chase
aircraft. The authority to fly a drone remotely greatly enhances the
efficiency and cost-effectiveness of using the technology.

For several years, Xcel Energy has collaborated with the FAA and has
contributed to the development of operational and safety requirements
for unmanned aircraft operations in the utility industry. Last year, the
company entered into a Partnership for Safety Program (PSP) with the FAA
to operate drones for power line inspections within visual sight of

When the transmission inspections are completed near the Denver area,
Xcel Energy and its partners will work with the FAA to extend these
operations in other states where the company provides electric service.
The company surveys more than 320,000 miles of electricity and natural
gas infrastructure to ensure the safety and reliability of its energy

Xcel Energy is currently working with several industry leaders including
Harris Corporation, Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Phoenix Air UNMANNED,
LLC and Altus Intelligence.

About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the
energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western
and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an
industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing
and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable
sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com
or follow us on Twitter
and Facebook.


Xcel Energy
Media Relations, 612-215-5300

Sky Optics Media drone video