SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Atlantic City Electric’s infrared helicopter detects issues invisible to naked eye

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

It’s just another day at the office for Atlantic City Electric’s transmission line maintenance engineers — except the day’s assignment consists of taking to the skies in a helicopter equipped with infrared technology.

A trio of workers, including a pilot, engineer and technician, do their infrared inspections for the Atlantic City Electric region once a year, surveying 1,300 miles of transmission lines from high above. They’ll inspect it all in a three week time frame thanks to the infrared camera.

“So the infrared technician is looking at their screen in real time, the camera is operable by handheld in the back … while I’m in the front seat focused on the entirety of the line, looking for any glaringly obvious defective items that we might pick up,” said Heather Roberts, transmission area maintenance engineer for ACE.

Engineer Jeff Owad showed a photo from a recent repair of a power line defect. Though he couldn’t detect it with the naked eye, the infrared technology spotted the issue immediately, in turn allowing the team dispatch immediate repair to the site.

According to ACE data, customers have seen a 22 percent reduction in the frequency of power outages, and when they did occur, power was restored 17 percent faster on average.

Roberts stressed that this is just one aspect of the inspection program. As soon as inspections are done, they get right to work on the upgrades, repair or maintenance.

Atlantic City Electric is an underwriter of NJTV News.