San Diego Utility to Test Drones

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On Friday, San Diego Gas & Electric announced that it was the first utility in the United States to be granted approval from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test drones and to train flight crews. The company plans to test the use of drone aircraft to patrol for power outages and wildfires in remote areas.

The FAA approved four unpopulated test areas in eastern San Diego County, where small camera-carrying drones can provide live views of power and gas lines in hard to reach places. If tests prove successful, the utility, which is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), says it will seek approval to use the unmanned aircraft more widely.

“The unmanned aircraft system provides us with another tool in our electric and gas operations tool chest. … By using these devices, we hope to enhance the reliability of the energy network and promote public safety for the benefit of the entire region,” said a spokesperson in the company’s press release.

Sempra Energy shares climbed fractionally in after-hours trading Friday, taking back the decline during the trading session. Its 52-week range is $81.77 to $105.25.

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