A consumer drone flying into a power line on Larrabee St. and Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood knocked out power to almost 700 customers, Southern California Edison reports. Police say that witnesses saw the drone hit the lines at about 1:15 pm yesterday, causing one power line to fall to the ground. Power was restored in about 3 hours, and there were no injuries reported as a result of the incident.
While more and more power companies investigate the use of drones to repair and inspect power lines, some companies have experienced problems with hobbyist flyers. Last May, Seattle City Light reported spending over $35k to remove a drone stuck in power lines for over a week, during which electricity had to be re-routed. Southern California Edison company spokesperson Robert Villegas said that it was the first time that SCE has experienced a power loss due to a drone. “We’re accustomed to a variety of items in the line – from small animals to big animals … Mylar balloons. It’s always an area of concern,” Villegas told the Los Angeles Times.
Authorities are still searching for the operator of the drone, pieces of which were found on the ground below the wires after the accident. Earlier this month, the LA City Council approved an ordinance making it a misdemeanor offense to violate drone regulations. The regulations include flying more than 500 ft. above the ground, within 5 miles of an airport, or within 25 ft. of another person. Consequences could involve a jail sentence of up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1,000. It is unclear whether any specific regulations were violated in this case.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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